The Chemical Properties Of Soils

Soil has several chemical properties.

All soil has chemical properties, which are important to how other agents react to the soil. For instance, the chemical properties of the soil determine what plant life can grow in the soil, as well as other factors like soil’s effect on water in the environment. There are five chemical properties of soil, including pH, salinity, cation exchange, organic matter and carbon to nitrogen ratio. Does this Spark an idea?


The soil’s pH tells how much acid or alkaline it contains. Plant roots won’t be able to thrive outside a precise pH level, which varies by plant type. If the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, the plant will eventually die. A neutral pH is 7, while acidic is a pH under 7 and alkaline is above 7. When growing plants, the most advantageous pH is between 5.5 and 7.5. Plant toxicity can occur when soil has a pH level less than 6 and has increased amounts of aluminum.


Soil salinity describes the level of soluble salts it contains. Problems with irrigated soils can occur when there are elevated evaporation rates and low rainfall, which in turn causes salts to build up. Buildup can also occur due to irrigation water, compost, manure and fertilizers. It is possible to filter the salt by gradually applying surplus water. Approximately 3 inches of water can remove 50 percent of the salts, while 5 inches can remove 90 percent.

Cation Exchange Capacity

Cation exchange capacity is the soil’s potential to hold cations (positively charged ions). Most nutrients are cations. Soil particles are made up of silicate and aluminosilicate clay and are negatively charged colloids (matter that is scattered evenly throughout another matter). Cations are bound to the surface of these particles.

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Organic Matter

Organic matter, the remains of plants and animals, has many beneficial effects on soil properties. The physical effects are that it evens out the soil structure, lowers bulk solidity and can develop water-holding distinctiveness. Organic matter also has a higher cation exchange capacity and can act as a pH barrier. Furthermore, organic matter provides energy and bodybuilding components for soil organisms and is a resource for nutrients.

Carbon to Nitrogen Ratio

The carbon to nitrogen ratio for soils ranges from 8:1 to 15:1, and is typically between 10:1 and 12:1. Climate conditions affect the variations that can occur. In dry regions, the carbon to nitrogen ratio tends to be lower. It is also lower in warm areas as well as in subsoil as compared to topsoil.