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The productivity of a soil is the combined result of fertility and management. The fertility of a soil at any one time is partly due to its natural make-up (inherent or natural fertility) and partly due to its condition (variable fertility) at that time. Natural fertility can have an influence on the rental and sale value of land. It is the result of factors which are normally beyond the control of the farmer, such as: 1 2 3 The texture and chemical composition of the mineral matter. The topography (natural slope of the land) which can affect drainage, temperature and workability of the soil.

Biological Science 1 and 2, Cambridge, 1991. 2 Soils and soil management Soils are very complex and most have developed over a very long period of time. They provide a suitable medium for plants to obtain water, nutrients and oxygen for growth and development. Most soils also have enough depth to allow plant roots to provide a firm anchorage. Mineral soils are formed initially by the weathering of parent rock, often accompanied by deposition of material by ice, water and /or wind. Organic material is added by the growth and decay of living organisms.

One of the ways that plants react to external stimuli is by movement. Roots, shoots, leaves and flowers can all move either towards or away from these stimuli. This movement is called ‘tropism’. 2 Phototropism This is the movement response to light. Shoots will be positively phototropic and move towards light. Auxins play a major part in this movement by moving to the dark side of the shoot, encouraging cell growth and thus bending the shoot towards the light source. This is a vital response if maximum sunlight interception is to take place by the plant so that this can be converted to yield.

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4 Non Blondes - Bigger, Better, Faster, More! by 4 Non Blondes


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