The factors influencing plant growth and productivity may be grouped as follows.
A. Soil factors
The major soil factors are: soil moisture, texture, structure, density, salinity, fertility,aeration, temperature and drainage.
B. Plant factors
The major plant factors are: types of crops, density and depth of rooting, rate of rootgrowth, aerodynamic roughness of the crop, drought tolerance and varietal effects.
C. Climate factors
The climatic factors are: sunshine, temperature, humidity, wind and rainfall.
D. Miscellaneous factors
Some of the major miscellaneous factors are: soil volume, plant spacing, crop and soilmanagement.Water is retained around the soil particles and in capillary pores by the forces arising outof surface tension and presence of salts. A plant has to overcome retentive forces to absorbwater ; from the soil. The upper limit of water retention is limited to the field capacity of the soil. Any amount of water added to soil in excess of field capacity is not going to be retained in theroot zone of the crop. When the soil texture is more of the clay content, the field capacity valueincreases. Time required for draining of the excess water also depends on soil texture. Whenthe amount of water is reduced to a permanent wilting point, at this point or below plants can nolonger absorb water and survive. The moisture content between field capacity and permanentwilting point is known as available soil moisture regime for plant growth. Humid conditionsenables plants to draw soil moisture almost up to the permanent wilting point. On the other handin hot and dry conditions, plants may show wilting symptoms in spite of enough available water present in the root zone.Plants use only about 5% of the total water absorbed for physiological functioning. Mostof the water is lost in transpiration and, therefore, it has to be replaced. Water absorption,conduction, translocation and water loss through transpiration are some of the main processesin plant growth. Water absorption by roots is dependent on the supply of water at the rootsurface and growth of roots in the soil mass. As the soil dries from saturated state, the rate of water movement in the soil decreases rapidly. The root system must expand continuously toprovide the plant with sufficient water to replace the transpiration losses through the leaves. Theinternal water balance in a plant depends on the relative rates of water absorption and loss.Water stress whether mild, moderate or severe can affect photosynthesis, respiration,growth and reproduction of plant. Water stress at certain critical stages causes more injury toplant growth and productivity. Some plants survive water stress owing to their drought resistantqualities.Since field capacity and wilting percentage are peculiar to soils, water absorption may beeffectively controlled by adopting an effective root zone. Shallow rooted plants like paddy andpotato require frequent water application than moderately deep and very deep rooted cropssuch as wheat, groundnut, maize, sorghum, cotton and sugarcane. Moisture is extracted to alarger extent from the first quarter of the root zone than others.