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Understanding Vineyard Soils$
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Robert E. White

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199342068

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199342068.001.0001

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Where the Vine Roots Live

Where the Vine Roots Live

(p.117) 4 Where the Vine Roots Live
Understanding Vineyard Soils

Robert E. White

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 gives examples of how grapevines, being woody perennials, have the potential to develop extensive, deep root systems when soil conditions are favorable. One of the most important factors governing root growth is a soil’s structure, the essential attributes of which are • Spaces (collectively called the pore space or porosity) through which roots grow, gases diffuse, and water flows • Storage of water and natural drainage following rain or irrigation • Stable aggregation • Strength that not only enables moist soil to bear the weight of machinery and resist compaction but also influences the ease with which roots can push through the soil The key attributes of porosity, aeration and drainage, water storage, aggregation, and soil strength are discussed in turn. Various forces exerted by growing roots, burrowing animals and insects, the movement of water and its change of state (e.g., from liquid to ice) together organize the primary soil particles—clay, silt, and sand—into larger units called aggregates. Between and within these aggregates exists a network of spaces called pores. Total soil porosity is defined by the ratio . . . Porosity = Volume of pores/Volume of soil . . . A soil’s A horizon, containing organic matter, typically has a porosity between 0.5 and 0.6 cubic meter per cubic meter (m3/m3)—also expressed as 50% to 60%. In subsoils, where there is little organic matter and usually more clay, the porosity is typically 40% to 50%. Box 4.1 describes a simple way of estimating a soil’s porosity. Total porosity is important because it determines how much of the soil volume water, air, and roots can occupy. Equally important are the shape and size of the pores. The pores created by burrowing earthworms, plant roots, and fungal hyphae are roughly cylindrical, whereas those created by alternate wetting and drying appear as cracks. Overall, however, we express pore size in terms of diameter (equivalent to a width for cracks). Table 4.1 gives a classification of pore size based on pore function.

Keywords:   Barossa Valley, La Mancha region, Merlot, abscisic acid, cover crops, duplex soils, evaporation, fertigation, gravity, leaching

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