Light intensity and wind speed are the two biggest causes of water evaporation from the soil. When plants are spaced so that their mature leaves barely touch, the leaves form a canopy over the soil, protecting it from direct sunlight and from wind.
Enhanced plant growth is achieved as the leaf canopy creates a 'mini-climate' in between the soil surface and the underside of the plant leaves that is characterized by:
- high moisture levels
- high CO2 levels
- moderate temperature (warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer)
Soil erosion is minimized as the leaf canopy decreases wind speed over the soil (minimizing wind erosion) and slows down falling water before it impacts the soil (minimizing water erosion).
Weed growth is inhibited as the mature plant canopy shades out competition and the crops' dense plant roots compete with those of weeds for nutrition.