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The Moisture Of The Soil

Categories: THE SOIL

Did any one ever explain to you how important water is to the soil, or

tell you why it is so important? Often, as you know, crops entirely fail

because there is not enough water in the soil for the plants to drink.

How necessary is it, then, that the soil be kept in the best possible

condition to catch and hold enough water to carry the plant through dry,

hot spells! Perhaps you are ready to ask, "How does the mouthless plant

drink its stored-up water?"

The plant gets all its water through its roots. You have seen the tiny

threadlike roots of a plant spreading all about in fine soil; they are

down in the ground taking up plant food and water for the stalk and

leaves above. The water, carrying plant food with it, rises in a simple

but peculiar way through the roots and stems.

The plants use the food for building new tissue, that is, for growth.

The water passes out through the leaves into the air. When the summers

are dry and hot and there is but little water in the soil, the leaves

shrink up. This is simply a method they have of keeping the water from

passing too rapidly off into the air. I am sure you have seen the corn

blades all shriveled on very hot days. This shrinkage is nature's way of

diminishing the current of water that is steadily passing through the


A thrifty farmer will try to keep his soil in such good condition that

it will have a supply of water in it for growing crops when dry and hot

weather comes. He can do this by deep plowing, by subsoiling, by adding

any kind of decaying vegetable matter to the soil, and by growing crops

that can be tilled frequently.

The soil is a great storehouse for moisture. After the clouds have

emptied their waters into this storehouse, the water of the soil comes

to the surface, where it is evaporated into the air. The water comes to

the surface in just the same way that oil rises in a lamp-wick. This

rising of the water is called _capillarity_.