Soil fertility is a broad term that refers to the ability of a soil to supply nutrients to a crop. The ability to supply nutrients is affected by their amounts in the soil and is governed also by several other chemical, physical, and biological properties. Soil fertility is sometimes referred to as soil quality or soil health.
- Chemical factors of soil fertility refer to the supply of plant nutrients in the soil with regard to the total supply and to the amounts of the total supply that are available for plant nutrition. Soil acidity is a chemical factor of soil fertility. Soil acidity affects the solubility or availability of plant nutrients and other chemical elements that affect the ability of plants to grow in soils.
- Physical factors of soil fertility include conditions such as soil depth, water-holding capacity, drainage, aeration, tilth, temperature, and nutrient-holding capacity
- Biological factors include conditions including the presence of harmful organisms such as plant diseases, weeds, and insects and the presence of beneficial organisms such as microorganisms that carry out mineralization of organic matter and nitrification of ammonium and that live in symbiosis with plants
Chemical, physical, and biological factors are interrelated, and sometimes it is difficult to place a soil property into one of the categories. Soil fertility is an integration of these factor