Introduction to Crop Husbandry: Including Grassland by J. A. R. Lockhart, A. J. L. Wiseman

By J. A. R. Lockhart, A. J. L. Wiseman

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Clay soils are usually poorly aerated—especially when the very small pores in such soils become filled with water. Good aeration is especially important for germi­ nating seeds and seedling plants. Soil micro-organisms There are thousands of millions of very small organisms in every gramme of fertile soil. Many different types are found but the main groups are: (1) Bacteria—the most numerous group. Bac­ teria are the smallest type of single-celled organisms and can only be seen with a microscope.

33). This change is well worthwhile where arable crops are grown. In many clay-land areas—especially where rainfall is high—the fields are often small and irregular in shape because the boundaries were originally ditches which followed the fall of the land. The hedges and deciduous trees, which were planted later, grow very well on these fertile, wet soils. The close texture and an adequate water supply often restrict root development on clay soils. Organic matter, such as strawy farmyard manure, ploughed-in straw or grassland re­ sidues make these soils easier to work.

Soil bacteria are most active in warm, damp, well-aerated soils which are not acid. (2) Fungi. Fungi are simple types of plants which feed on and break down organic matter. They are mainly responsible for breaking down lignified (woody) tissue. They have no chlor­ ophyll or proper flowers. g. peats. Fungi can live in acid conditions and in drier conditions than bacteria. g. those causing "take-all" and "eyespot" in cereals. (3) Actinomycetes. These are organisms which are intermediate between bacteria and fungi and have a similar effect on the soil.

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