Difference Between Soil Fertility And Soil Productivity 

Soil health is vital to food production. It supplies essential nutrients, water, oxygen, and root support, all of which help plants grow and develop. Moreover,Soil is the foundation of all food systems and the source of all food, plants and animals. It is also essential to maintain the fertility of the soil and produce the optimum amount of crops. Here comes the importance of soil fertility and productivity. Accordingly, a lot of confusion lies in these terms. Likewise, Many perceive it as synonymous. Yet, there is a difference between soil fertility and soil productivity.

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This article will explain the basic meaning of soil fertility and soil productivity and the difference between soil fertility and soil productivity.Thus continue to read the whole article !

Meaning- Difference Between Soil Fertility And Soil Productivity

To know the difference between soil fertility and soil productivity, it is important first to understand the basic essence of soil fertility and productivity.

Soil Fertility

Soil fertility refers to the soil’s ability to support a certain level of agricultural production. It also includes plant development. Also includes yield through the presence of favourable chemical, physical, and biological properties.
  • Firstly, Physical properties include texture, structure, porosity, density, drainage, and soil surface hydrology.
  • Secondly, Chemical properties can include the nutritional status and pH level.
  • Thirdly, biological properties may include helpful living organisms found within the soil. For example mycorrhizae, other fungi, bacteria and worms.
In fact, Soil fertility is primarily concerned with ensuring that the soil has an adequate amount of nutrients (both macro and micro) and water. Additionally, It also involves  the absence of undesirable chemicals that could limit production.
However, various other factors contribute to soil fertility.
 Thus, it is critical to examine soil fertility, the soil itself, and what is there within the soil.

(Also Read- Factors affecting soil fertility)

Soil Productivity

As the name implies, soil productivity refers to the soil’s capacity to generate whatever you cultivate in it.

More precisely, it is the soil’s capacity to produce a specified level of agricultural production or to support a specified rate, level, or volume of plant or crop growth.

For instance, the more overall agricultural product per square metre than soil on a plot of land can generate, the more productive that soil is.

Additionally, the term “productive soil” could refer to the growth rate or any other indicator of productivity.

Moreover, Fertile soil is frequently productive, and productive soil is always fertile.

However, soil fertility may be more concerned with the soil’s chemical, physical, and biological qualities and properties. And, of course, these features result in a result (which is the level of productivity).

Besides, Soil productivity may be less concerned with the soil’s physical properties (although these are obviously necessary for the soil to be productive). Furthermore, It is more concerned with the end product that the soil produces, e.g. what is the yield per square meter or total yield in terms of weight of product produced ?

A productive soil must be fertile, but a fertile soil may not be productive. Difference between soil fertility and soil productivity

Whenever the discussion of soil fertility and productivity comes , the statement is important. Let’s discuss it to comprehend the difference between soil fertility and soil productivity.

basically, Soil fertility is the ability of soil to give plants the nutrients they need in the right amounts, in the right forms, and at the right time. Besides, There are different kinds of essential nutrients in the soil at any given time. Soil fertility is measured in terms of these factors. Likewise, Soil productivity is how well a soil can grow crops.
Sometimes soil may have nutrients but is not available to crops. Like, saline soil may have all of the elements that plants need to grow, but it can’t be fertile because there are too many Na-salts in it. Additionally, These salts mess with the balance of other nutrients like Ca2+, Mg2+, and K+. Therefore, in general fertile soil is productive, but that is not the only thing. So, It may be unproductive too.
Thus soil fertility denotes the status of available plant nutrients in the soil. In contrast, soil productivity is overall effect of various factors influencing crop production. It involves both factors both within and beyond the soil.

Factors Affecting Soil Fertility And Productivity

Firstly, Understanding various natural and artificial factors affecting them helps in a deeper understanding of the difference between soil fertility and soil productivity.

Factors Affecting Soil Fertility 

Factors Affecting Soil Productivity


Soil Fertility


Soil/Farm Location

Nutrient status in soil

Soil Physical conditions

Cropping System

Weather condition

Soil Microorganisms

Insect-Pest and Disease Attack

Difference between soil fertility and soil productivity

Following lies the brief Difference between soil fertility and soil productivity in tabular form.


Soil Fertility

Soil Productivity

General definition

Index of available nutrients to plants

The broader term used to indicate crop yields


One of the factors for crop production; the others are water supply etc.

On the other hand, It is the interaction of all the factors.

Precise definition

Potential status of the soil to produce crops.

Resultant of various factors influencing soil management.


Can be analyzed in the lab.

Can be assessed in the field under particular climate conditions.

Factors affecting

Depends upon physical, chemical and biological factors of soil.

Whereas it, depends upon location, fertility, physical conditions etc.

Soil property

It is an inherent property of soil.

On the contrary, It is not an inherent property of soil.

Climate variation

The fertility of a certain soil is the same in all climates.

In contrast, Soil productivity differs according to the variations in climate and location.

Fertility and productivity

All fertile soils are not productive.

But, All productive soils are certainly fertile.

(Also Read- Difference between a Farm and Ranch)

Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash


Typically fertile soil has properties like providing vital plant nutrients and moisture to crops. So, It also includes the minimum hazardous chemicals that may hinder plant growth. Furthermore, Soil conservation methods usually maintain soil fertility. It is because soil erosion and degradation often reduce soil quality. Moreover, degradation is in terms of nutrients, pH, drainage, aeration, etc. Agronomically, Soil productivity refers to water and nutrient input vs. crop production (output).
Perception of the difference between soil fertility and soil productivity is vital. It is for a deeper understanding of soil, agriculture, and crop production indeed. Fertile soil may not be productive. It is due to improper soil physical, biological, and other agricultural management approaches.
Consequently, Productive soils are fertile soils, and fertility is part of productive soil. Thus, Productive soil has a favorable chemical, physical, and biological conditions for plant growth.

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