Types of Soil in India 

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‘Soil’ is the upper layer of the mantle rock. It consists of tiny particles and humus which support the growth of plants. 

The soil body is called the pedosphere. It is a mixture of minerals, gasses, liquids, and organic matter which sustain life together. 

The four major functions of soil are:

  • It acts as a medium for growth of plants.
  • It plays a crucial role in transportation, supply and purification of water.
  • Helps in regulating earth’s atmosphere.
  • It is considered as a ‘sanctuary’ for living organisms.
  • Ultimately, it regulates its own properties.

Soil is a major natural and economic resource. There are six different types of soil in India. They differ in composition and structure.

In ancient India, soil was classified into two types. 

  • The fertile soil was called the ‘Urvara’.
  • The sterile soil was called the ‘Usara’.

In the modern days, we primarily classify soil on the basis of their texture, color and presence of moisture. 

The ‘soils’ of India are vividly studied and their characteristics are noted by the Soil survey of India, which was established in 1956. 

A lot of studies on Indian soil were conducted by the National Bureau of Soil Survey and the Land Use Planning (functions under Indian Council of Agriculture Research).

Alluvial Soil

alluvial soil

The alluvial soil constitutes 43 percent of the Indian soil. It covers an area of 143 sq.km. It is mostly found in northern plains and river valleys. 

Alluvial soil is highly fertile. It contains humus, lime and organic matter. 

The type of soil can be found in regions like the Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra plain and the Narmada-Tapi plain. ‘Alluvial’ soil is mostly transported and deposited by rivers and streams.

While the new alluvium soil is known as ‘Khadar’, the old alluvium soil is called the ‘Bhangar’.

They are rich in potash. Their color varies from light gray to ash gray. When it comes to texture, they are defined as being sandy to silty loam or ‘clay’. Alluvial soil is suitable for the cultivation of crops like wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane, and oilseeds. 

Red Soil

red soil

Red soil or Omnibus group are mainly found in areas of low rainfall. They are porous, friable in structure. They are sandy to clay and loamy in texture.

They are red in color because of the presence of ferric oxide. The lower layer will be reddish yellow or yellow in color. Being deficient in lime, phosphate and potash, they are suitable for the cultivation of wheat, cotton, pulses and potato. 

Black Soil (Regur Soil)

Mostly found in Deccan, they are ideal for cotton cultivation. Black soil is mature soil with high water retaining capacity. 

Self-plowing – developing wide cracks when dried is one of the special characteristics of the black soil. 

They are rich in iron, lime, calcium and aluminum, but lack nitrogen and phosphorus. They range from deep black to light black in color and are clayey in texture. 

Laterite Soil

laterite soil

Derives its name from the Latin word ‘later’ which means brick. They are predominantly present in areas of high temperature and rainfall. They are formed as a result of high leaching and have low humus content. 

They are red in color due to the presence of iron oxide and are perfect for the cultivation of rice, sugar and cashew nuts.

Desert/Arid Soil

desert soil

They are sandy in nature and color ranges between red to brown. They are deposited by wind activities and predominantly found in arid and semi-arid regions. They are high in salt content and lack moisture and humus. 

Impure calcium carbonate content is high, restricting infiltration of water. 

Forest and Mountain Soil

While forest soil is predominantly found in areas of heavy rainfall, mountain soil is mostly found in hilly areas of our country. They are acidic due to lack of humidity.

Methods like contour plowing and terrace farming helps in keeping the soil fertile. They help in reducing the overuse, acidification, and salinization of the soil. 

Hence, different types of soil are vividly described in the article.


Read more:Biomolecules

Check your knowledge

      Answer) Alluvial soil, Red soil, Black soil, Laterite soil, Desert soil, Forest soil and Mountain soil.

 Answer)  Red soil is suitable for the cultivation of wheat, cotton, pulses and potato.

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