University of California

Comparisons of daytime and nighttime soil and air temperatures


Alfred Smith

Author Affiliations

Alfred Smith was Associate Professor of Soil Technology and Associate Soil Technologist in the Experiment Station.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 4(10):241-272. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v04n10p241. December 1929.

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The importance of minimum, optimum, and maximum temperatures as well as of average temperatures for plant and animal life has been stressed by many writers. The time and rate of germination of seeds is without question largely dependent on soil temperature conditions. With most cultivated plants growth does not begin until a temperature of 40° to 50° Fahrenheit is reached by the soil.

Mosier and Gustafson(6) state that growth is most vigorous at from 80° to 90° F, and that the soil nitrifying bacteria are most active at temperatures between 60° and 85° F. Other investigators give higher or lower ranges, as King(4) who in referring to Ebermayer’s investigations states that growth takes place most vigorously after the soil has reached 68° to 70° F, and that the maximum activity of the nitrifying bacteria occurs after a soil temperature of 98° has been reached; but if the soil reaches a temperature of 113° F their activity is nearly stopped, it being as weak as at 54°.

The effect of temperature on plant diseases and insect damage has received considerable attention. Smith(9) shows that the effect of the temperature on parasites or fungous diseases of insects may be different from that on the insects themselves.

Literature Cited

[1] Bouyoucos George J. Effect of temperature on some of the most important physical processes in soils. Michigan Agr. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bul. 1915. 22:1-63.

[2] Jones L. R., Johnson James, Dickson James G. Wisconsin studies upon the relation of soil temperature to plant disease. Wisconsin Agr. Exp. Sta. Res. Bul. 1926. 71:1-144.

[3] Kincer J. B. Daytime and nighttime precipitation and their economic significance. U. S. Mo. Weather Rev. 1916. 44:628-633. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0493(1916)44<628:DANPATreplacecodegt2.0.CO;2 [CrossRef]

[4] King F. H. Physics of agriculture. 1914. Madison, Wis: Mrs. F. H. King. 604p. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.24691 [CrossRef]

[5] Mason S. C. The inhibitive effect of direct sunlight on the growth of the date palm. Jour. Agr. Research. 1925. 31:455-469.

[6] Mosier J. G., Gustafson A. F. Soil physics and management. 1917. J. B. Lippincott Co. 442p. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.31102 [CrossRef]

[7] Smith Alfred. Effect of mulches on soil temperatures during the warmest week in July, 1925. Hilgardia. 1927. 2:385-397. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v02n10p385 [CrossRef]

[8] Smith Alfred. Daily and seasonal air and soil temperatures at Davis, California. Hilgardia. 1929. 4:77-112. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v04n03p077 [CrossRef]

[9] Smith J. W. Agricultural meteorology. 120:The Macmillan Company. 304p. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0493(1920)48<281:AMreplacecodegt2.0.CO;2 [CrossRef]

Smith A. 1929. Comparisons of daytime and nighttime soil and air temperatures. Hilgardia 4(10):241-272. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v04n10p241
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