Plant Nutrients and Soils - 7The availability and concentration of minerals is critical for growth. If a neededmineral is absent from the soil, the plant cannot grow properly, if at all. Mineralcycling, which involves the entire food chain, is an important process for ecosystems.(See ecology section). Disturbed ecosystems may lose minerals in many ways,diminishing plant growth. Soil erosion or other soil loss also depletes availableminerals.Soil particle size is very important for plant growth, and particularly for water andmineral absorption and for oxygen availability. We generally have three particle sizeranges:•Clay (less than 2 um•Silt (2 – 20 um)•Sand (20 - 400 um)Sand, the largest particle, makes soils that are porous, with good air spaces. Waterand minerals leach through sand very well, however, so sandy soils are often dry andmineral poor. Sandy soils can often be saline when found in hot dry areas becausewater evaporates faster than it can perk, leaving mineral deposits on the soil surface.
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