Soils and water

Soils and water are intricately linked. Water is an integral part of the soil, controlling transport processes, biological activities, or nutrient supply to name just a few.

The various types of soil and their water-related characteristics also directly affect soil management, e.g. in terms of irrigation requirements, or workability over the year.

In our New Zealand climate, from mid Autumn to spring precipitation usually exceeds evapotranspiration, leading to a downward movement of water through the soil. This means elements are ‘lost’ to the groundwater rather than accumulating within the soil like in hotter and drier climates. We therefore need to match our soil inputs with plant requirements if we want to avoid negative ‘off-site’ effects of land management.

Manaaki Whenua’s soil mapping efforts across New Zealand pay special attention to soil physical properties such as e.g. soil texture, soil structure, or hard pans encountered. These all have an impact on how much water a soil can store, how water moves through the soil, and on what potentially constitutes wise soil management at a particular site or within a given area. Our S-map Online platform provides these soil observations, plus other soil water-related characteristics such as field capacity, wilting point, and profile available water (PAW).

Some examples of our activities in this space are: