Plant growth is affected by both abiotic and biotic factors. Abiotic factors are non living; they can be physical or chemical. Without both biotic and abiotic factors, there cannot be any plant growth.
Abiotic factors nourish and sustain plants. They are the substrate or raw material on which the biotic materials work. Abiotic factors can also influence the kind of microorganisms present in the soil.
They can restrict the function of some microorganisms. For instance, it is very difficult to use fungi to control the number of nematodes in the soil because of the competition the fungi will face from other microorganisms.
What are Abiotic Factors?
There are a number of abiotic factors like pH, topography, sunlight, soil, salinity, temperature, latitude, weather, clouds, oxygen, air, water and more. We will discuss some of them below.
Soil: Soil includes factors such as soil air, pH, texture and more. The texture of soil varies from sandy to clay. Soil air occupies the space between soil particles. Soil pH affects biological activity and mineral availability in the soil.
Light: Light kicks off photosynthesis. The quality of light, its length and intensity play an important role in plant growth. Did you know some plants flower only at certain times? Depending on light intensity, some plants are called short day plants, day neutral plants and long day plants.
Temperature: Temperature affects the distribution of plants. In a desert, you will find different kinds of plants, compared to a rain forest. Basically, different plants have evolved to survive in different conditions. Temperature is also important for other processes, like flowering of plants.
Water: There are three types of plants. Hydrophytes are adapted to a watery environment (like water lilies). Mesophytes are adapted to conditions of neither too much water nor too little water (like rose, peas). Xerophytes are adapted to water deficient conditions (like cactus).
Wind: Wind contains humidity or water vapor. When this water vapor condenses, it falls in the form of snow, hail or rain. Wind also helps in the dispersal of seeds and pollen. Wind erosion causes destruction of top soil.
Topography: Topography includes slope, water bodies, terrain and land elevation. Topography is important for site and crop selection. For instance, tea is not grown below 1000 meters to sea level. The topography of a place also affects other abiotic factors in that area.
Climate: Any long term weather phenomenon that sustains for 30 years or more is the climate of that region. Climate is one of the most important abiotic factors to affect plant growth. For example, precipitation and temperature in an area determine the climate of that place. The climate of a grassland ecosystem is hot and dry during spring, and cold during winter.
Influence of Abiotic Factors in Organic Farming
Organic farming pays special attention to abiotic factors. Here are some reasons why:
- Agricultural pollution (excessive addition of fertilizers, pesticides, weedicides) and intensive farming is degrading our water and soil. Moreover, monoculture destroys the ecosystem by modifying the landscape.
- Current approaches like organic farming, integrated pest management, conservation tillage, and integrated plant nutrition create advantages in terms of more nutritious food, better farming practices and better soil health.
- Organic farmers like us are aware of the repercussions of overloading the soil with fertilizers and other chemicals. The food grown in such soils are often deficient in nutrients.
- When food is lacking nutrients, we are forced to eat more food to get the same amount of nutrients as earlier, leading to calorie overload and conditions like obesity. To counter this, we produce our own soil to grow our vegetables.
To know more about the perfect abiotic conditions for plant growth, please contact us.