Water retention

Water retention capacity is related strongly to soil structure and vegetation cover. Vegetation holds soil aggregates together and absorbs water, and thus increases the water retention potential of the area. Mires have the greatest water retention potential largely because of the high absorbency of peat. Also gravel soils retain large volumes of water. Loam soils retain water as well but due to its fine texture surface runoffs occur more often.

Especially draining, but in general all kinds of soil preparation, decreases the water retention capacity of the area. Preparation damages vegetation and root system and mobilizes soil aggregates which both affect negatively to water retention potential. If soil fails to retain water the consequence are, for example, surface runoffs and flooding.

Water retention capacity has an influence to several water related regulating services. Soil’s capacity to retain water is a vital precondition for water filtration. Water also carries substancies such as nutrients, organic compounds, minerals, toxins and other soil compounds. Floods and surface runoffs decrease considerably nutrient retention potential of the soil as well as natural erosion control.

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