Fertile soil creates the physical, chemical and biological conditions for healthy crop growth and determines the level of productivity.
Chemical soil fertility mainly refers to the availability of nutrients to plants. By nature, clay soils have higher chemical soil fertility than sandy soils. Sandy soils rely heavily on organic matter to provide nutrients. Acidity is a major factor in this respect. Whether nutrients are actually available to the crop depends on physical and biological soil fertility.
Biological soil fertility refers to the role of living organisms in the soil. Soil life is very diverse and includes huge amounts of them. All these organisms are involved in nutrient cycling, soil structure formation and soil disease resistance.
Physical soil fertility includes structural properties such as grain size, moisture retention capacity and the likelihood of erosion, compaction, surface compaction and nutrient leaching.
Chemical, biological and physical soil fertility are not separate but together determine soil fertility.
Schils, R. (2012). 30 vragen en antwoorden over bodemvruchtbaarheid. Alterra, Wageningen UR. 143 p