Soil Chemical Fertility

Soil chemistry is concerned with the availability of elements for plant uptake as well as the presence in soil of elements and chemical compounds that might be present at levels that are detrimental to plants and soil organisms. Some elements in the soil are nutrients and are essential for plant growth. Other elements are not essential and may be toxic to plants. The availability of elements for plant uptake is affected by soil pH and reactions of the elements with soil particles and organic matter.

Soil chemical fertility is affected by:

  • composition and parent material of the soil,
  • soil pH,
  • element adsorption to clay surfaces and organic matter,
  • soil salinity.


  • What are soil organisms, how do they help soil fertility?


  • Which elements are essential for plant health and which may be toxic to plants?


  • How do soil physical properties affect water movement and nutrient uptake through the plant roots?
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