The physical properties of the soil are the particles, grouped in size: sand, silt and clay. The percentages of these give the soil its texture and the arrangement of the particles determines the structure.

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Test for:Implications
CompactionRoot penetration and water infiltration
Bulk DensitySeedling emergence and air circulation of the soil
Structural StabilityAggregate stability in water is an indicator of infiltration and erosion

WHY IS GOOD STRUCTURE IMPORTANT?

On farm testing

Penetration resistance – use a penetronmeter to measure sub-surface compaction – important for drainage and restricting root growth

(VESS) visual evaluation of soil structure

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• Structure quality
• Size and appearance of aggregates
• Visible porosity and roots
• Appearance after breaking up the soil
• Distinguishing features
• Appearance and description of fragments

Slake test – Slake test will indicate the stability of the soil aggregate, resistance to erosion and impact of management in soil health
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(UK version coming soon!!)

Lab Testing

Particle analysis – proportion of sand : silt : clay reported as fractions

Bulk density – is an indicator of compaction and takes the dry weight of soil divided by volume

Particle size analysis – proportion of different size particles