Field Capacity (FC) - refers to the relatively constant soil water content reached after 48 hours drainage of water from a saturated soil. Drainage occurs through the transmission pores (greater than about 0.05 mm diameter; but note that field capacity can correspond to pores ranging from 0.03 to 0.1 mm diameter). The FC concept only applies to well-structured soils where drainage of excess water is relatively rapid; if drainage occurs in poorly structured soils, it will often continue for several weeks, and so poorly structured soils seldom possess a clearly defined FC. FC is best determined in the field by saturating the soil and measuring its water content after 48 hours of drainage have elapsed. Soil at field capacity feels very moist to the hands.
Permanent Wilting Point (PWP) - refers to the water content of a soil that has been exhausted of its available water by a crop, such that only non-available water remains. The crop then becomes permanently wilted and cannot be revived when placed in a water-saturated atmosphere. At this point the soil feels nearly dry or only very slightly moist.
Available Water Capacity (AWC) is the water available for plant growth held between Field Capacity and Permanent Wilting Point.
Saturation - refers to a soil's water content when practically all pore spaces are filled with water. This is a temporary state for well-drained soils, as the excess water quickly drains out of the larger pores under the influence of gravity, to be replaced by air.