Available water capacity is the amount of water that can be stored in a soil profile and be available for growing crops. It is also known as available water content (AWC), profile available water (PAW) or total available water (TAW).
The concept, put forward by Frank Veihmeyer and Arthur Hendrickson, assumed that the water readily available to plants is the difference between the soil water content at field capacity (θfc) and permanent wilting point (θpwp):
- θa ≡ θfc − θpwp
Daniel Hillel criticised that the terms FC and PWP were never clearly defined, and lack physical basis, and that soil water is never equally available within this range. He further suggested that a useful concept should concurrently consider the properties of plant, soil and meteorological conditions.
Lorenzo A. Richards remarked that the concept of availability is oversimplified. He viewed that: the term availability involves two notions: (a) the ability of plant root to absorb and use the water with which it is in contact and (b) the readiness or velocity with which the soil water moves in to replace that which has been used by the plant.
Plant available water in sandy soils can be increased by the presence of sepiolite clay 
- ^ Richards, L.A.; Wadleigh, C.H. (1952). "Soil water and plant growth". In B.T. Shaw (ed.). Soil Physical Conditions and Plant Growth. American Society of Agronomy Series Monographs, Volume II. New York: Academic Press. pp. 74–251.
- ^ Duncan, Maurice; Davoren, Anthony; Carrick, Sam; Ellery, Glenn; Stevenson, Peter; Stewart, Doug (June 2013). Soil Water Measurement: Measurement, Processing and Archiving of Soil Water Content Data (PDF) (Report). 1.0. National Environmental Monitoring Standards. p. ii.
- ^ Veihmeyer, F.J.; Hendrickson, A.H. (1927). "The relation of soil moisture to cultivation and plant growth". Proc. 1st Intern. Congr. Soil Sci. 3: 498–513.
- ^ Richards, L.A. (1928). "The usefulness of capillary potential to soil moisture and plant investigators". J. Agr. Res. 37: 719–742.
- ^ Francis, Michele Louise (2019). "Effect of sepiolite and palygorskite on plant available water in Arenosols of Namaqualand, South Africa". Geoderma Regional. 17: e00222. doi:10.1016/j.geodrs.2019.e00222. S2CID 133773908.