Classification of soil as per Indian standard

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classification of soil in india

Classification of soil as per Indian standard” is an important topic of Indian Geography.Often various questions asked from this chapter in various competitive exams like SSC, Rail, State PSCs, CDS, UPSC.Here we provide a brief note on different types of Soil in India. 

Practice MCQ on Soil of India 


•  Soil can be defined as the mixture of organic matter or humus, minerals, gases, liquids, and microorganisms that together support life.
• Soil is also commonly referred to as the top layer of the earth’s crust which supports life.
• This top layer or the outermost layer of earth that is composed of soil is called Pedosphere. The word  ‘pedon‘ is a Greek word which means “ground” or “earth.
• The Pedosphere interfaces with the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere.

Soil has four major functions 

• It provides a medium for plant growth.
• As a means of water storage, supply and purification
• As a modifier of Earth’s atmosphere
• As a habitat for organisms

Biotic and Abiotic Factor of Soil

•  Soil is an important  factor of our ecosystem, and it contains both biotic and abiotic factors.
• Biotic factors  – Biotic  factors  includes the living things like various  organisms, insects, plants and animals.
• Abiotic factor  – Abiotic factor includes  the non- living things like minerals, water, and air.

•  Silicate minerals are  the most common minerals found on the earth crusts. Most abundant silicates are feldspars.

• Soil provides essential metals for plant growth  like  Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorus and less common minerals like  Calcium, Magnesium, and Sulphur.

Composition of  Soil

• Soil  composed of five major components. It includes _
1.  Mineral matter which is obtained by the disintegration and decomposition of rocks by pressure and temperature.
2.  Organic matter which is obtained by the decay of plant residues, animal remains and microbial tissues.
3. Water, obtained from the atmosphere and the reactions in soil (chemical, physical and microbial)
4. Air or gas, from atmosphere, reactions of roots, microbes and chemicals in the soil.
5. Organisms like insects,worms and  Micro-organisms like Small microbes.

Classification of Soil

♦  In ancient times based on fertility soil classified into two main groups, these include
• Urvara — Fertile soil
• Usara — Sterile (Infertile soil)

♦ Based on texture, soil can be classified into 4 groups
• Sandy
• Clayey
• Silty
• Loam

♦ On the Basis of colour,the soil can be classified into 3 groups
• Red
• Yellow
• Black

Classification of soil as per Indian standard

• In the year 1953, The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) set up an All India Soil Survey Committee. According to the survey report of the Committee ICAR has classified the Indian soils into Eight major groups on the basis of their nature, genesis, colour, composition and location.

◘  List of the 8 major soil groups notified by ICAR
• Alluvial soils
• Black soils
• Red soils
• Laterite soils
• Forest and Mountain soils
• Arid and Desert soils
• Saline and Alkaline soils
• Marshy and Peaty soils

About ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research)
• Director – Trilochan Mohapatra
• Location – New Delhi, Delhi, India

Details About the classification of soil as per Indian standard

Alluvial Soils of India

♦ General Features
Alluvial or Alluviam soil is the most important and most widespread soil group in India.
• It supports uninterrupted crop growth.
• Distributed over an area of 15 lakh sq. Km.
Area covered In terms of Percentage – 45.6%.
• Transported and deposited through rivers and streams
• Soils range in nature from sandy loam to clay.
• The sand content decreases from the west to east.
• The colour of the alluvial soils varies from the mild grey to ash grey.
• Shades depend on the depth of the deposition.
The Alluvial soils are yet Immature.
• Alluvial soil located near the foothills of Shiwalik known as – Bhabar
• The Alluvia soil  is the  most productive soil in India as because it supports wide pant growth.

♦ Location
Northern plains (Mainly Indo-Gangetic Plain).
• Punjab in the west, West Bengal and Assam.
River valleys and deltas of the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery.

♦ Composition
• Potash, Phosphoric Acid(Rich)
• Nitrogen (Poor)
• Iron Oxide and Lime vary within a wide range.

◘ Two Types of Alluvial soil
♦ Khadar
New alluvium
• Deposited by floods annually
• Formed by depositing fine silts.

♦ Bhangar
Represents a system of older alluvium,
• Deposited away from the floodplains.
**both the Khadar and Bhangar soils incorporate calcareous concretions (Kankars).
**these soils are greater loamy and clayey within the lower and center Ganga undeniable and the Brahmaputra valley

♦ Note:-
• Alluvial Soil located in the coastal area known as – Coastal Alluvium
• And Alluvial Soil located in the delta region of various river known as – Deltic Alluvium

 Suitable Crops
• Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane, Maize, Pulses, Oilseeds, Fruits and Vegetables, Leguminous Crops.

 Black Soils of India

 General features
• Known as ‘Regur Soil’ or ‘Black Cotton Soil.
Highly retentive of moisture.
• They swell and become sticky when wet and shrink when dried.
• During the dry season, these soils develop wide cracks.
• Also called self ploughed soil.
• Because of this individual of gradual absorption and loss of moisture, the black soil keeps the moisture for a completely long term.
• Important for rain fed crops, to sustain even during the dry season.
• The coloration of the soil levels from deep black to grey.
• Percentage of Back soi in India is 18.5%.

Area covered
• Covers most of the Deccan Plateau.
• Madhya Pradesh
• Andhra Pradesh
• Some parts of Tamil Nadu.
• Upper reaches of the Godavari and the Krishna

• Rich in – Lime , iron, magnesia and alumina. potash
• Poor in – Phosphorous, nitrogen and organic matter

 Suitable Crops
• Cotton, Tobacco, Castor, Wheat, Jowar, Millets, Sunflower.

Soils of India
Soils of India ( Image Source Aplus Topper)

 Red and Yellow Soils of India

 Area Covered
Eastern and southern part of the Deccan Plateau
• Along the piedmont zone of the Western Ghat.
• Parts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
• Southern parts of the middle Ganga plain.

 General features
Develops on crystalline igneous rocks
Reddish colour due to a wide diffusion of iron oxide.
Looks yellow when it occurs in a hydrated form.
• Fine-grained red and yellow soils are normally fertile, whereas coarse-grained soils found in dry upland areas are poor in fertility.

• Poor in – Lime, Nitrogen and Humus, Phosphorous.
• Rich in – Potash.

 Suitable Crops
• Cotton, Wheat, Rice, Pulse, Tobacco, Millets.

 Laterite Soil in India

Common Features
• Derived from the Latin word ‘Later’ means brick.
• Indefinitely durable , develop in areas with high temperature and high rainfall.
• These are the result of intense leaching due to tropical rains.
With rain, lime and silica are leached away.
• Due to intensive leaching the laterite soils generally lack fertility.
• Widely cut as bricks for use in house construction.
• Laterite soil is the end-product of weathering.
• It cannot be weatherd much further.
• Percentage of laterite soil in India is 2.62%.

Area Covered
Tamil Nadu
• Andhra Pradesh
• Kerala

• Rich in -:- Iron oxide, Potash and aluminium compound.
• Poor in -:- Organic matter, nitrogen, phosphate.

Suitable Crops
• Cashew nut, Tea, Coffee, Coconut, Rubber, Chincona ,Cotton, Wheat, Rice, Pulse, Tobacco, Millets.

Forest and Mountain Soil in India

 Common features
Total area covered – 2.85 lakh sq. km (8.67%)
• The soil formed in the forest area regions where sufficient rainfall is available.
• They are loamy and silty on valley sides.
• And coarse-grained in the upper slopes.
The soils found in the lower valleys are fertile.

 Area Covered
• Mainly found on the hill slopes of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand , Karnataka, Tamil Nadu.

• Rich in – Humus
• Poor in – Potash, Phosphorus and Lime.

 Suitable Crops
• Tea, Coffee, Spices and Tropical fruits in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

 Arid and Desert soils in India

Common Features
• Total area covered 4.32% (1.42 lakh sq km.)
• Red to brown in colour.
• Generally sandy in structure.
• Saline in nature.
• Due to the dry climate, high temperature and accelerated evaporation, they lack moisture and humus.
• They occur in arid and semi-arid regions, and in waterlogged and swampy areas.

 Area Covered
• Gujarat (Rann of Kutch)
• Adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana lying between the Indus and Aravalis.

• Poor in – Humus, Nitrogen
• Rich in – Calcium salts and Phosphate

 Suitable Crops
• Barley, Rape, Cotton, Wheat, Millets, Maize and Pulses.

Saline and Alkaline Soil in India

Common Features
Known as Usara soils.
• Do not support any vegetative growth.
• They have more salts, largely because of dry climate and poor drainage.
Known as different names such as – Reh, Kallar, Usar, Thur, Rakar, Karl and Chopan.

♦ ~Note~
• Excessive irrigation with dry climatic conditions promotes capillary action, which results in the deposition of salt on the top layer of the soil. In such areas, especially in Punjab and Haryana, farmers are advised to add gypsum to solve the problem of salinity in the soil.

 Area Covered
• Andhra Pradesh , Telangana and Karnataka.
• Drier parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

• Rich in – Sodium, Potassium , Magnesium
• Poor in – Nitrogen and calcium

 Suitable Crops
• Salt-tolerant annual crops are barley and oat.
• Grain sorghum, sugar beets, Bermuda grass, tall wheat grass.

Peaty and Marshy Soils of India

 Common Features

• Peaty soils originate in the areas of heavy rainfall and high humidity.
• Support good growth of vegetation.
Huge quantity of dead organic matters are present in this soil.
• This offers a rich humus and organic content to the soil.
Organic matter up to 40-50 per cent.
• Generally heavy and black (Deep Black) in colour.
Peaty soil found in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts of Kerala known as – Kari.

 Area Covered
• Northern part of Bihar.
• Southern part of Uttarakhand.
• Coastal areas of West Bengal, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

• Rich in – Organic Matter.
• Poor in – Potash and Phosphate.

 Suitable Crops
• Mostly suitable for Paddy Cultivation.

Overview of the  classification of soil as per indian standard   

Soil Name Location Rich in Deficient In
Alluvial Soil Indo-Gangetic Plain , River Valleys Potas Nitrogen
Black Soil Deccan Plateau
[Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh,
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh,
Gujarat, Parts of Tamil Nadu]
Lime , iron, magnesia
and alumina. potash
Phosphorous, nitrogen
and organic matter
Red and Yellow Soil Tamil Nadu, Parts of Karnataka,
West Bengal (Bankura, Birbhum)
Iron Oxide Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Humus.
Laterite soils Karnataka, Kerala,
Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh,
Iron Oxide, Potash Organic matter, Nitrogen,
Phosphate and Calcium
Forest and
Mountain Soils
Forest area of
Tamil Nadu , Kerala
Jammu & Kashmir , Himachal Pradesh
Humus Potash, Phosphorus, Lime
Arid and Desert Soil Rajasthan and adjoining areas
of Punjab and Haryana
Rann of Kutch
Soluble Slats, Alkline,
Calcium Carbonate
Organic Matter
Saline Soil Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh
Maharashtra, West Bengal
and Rajasthan
Salt of Calcium, Magnesium
sulfurous acid and Sodium
Humus, Nitrogen

Frequently Asked Questions on  Classification of soil as per Indian standard

Question1: What are the 8 types of soil in India?
Answer:   List of the 8 major soil groups notified by ICAR
• Alluvial soils
• Black soils
• Red soils
• Laterite soils
• Forest and Mountain soils
• Arid and Desert soils
• Saline and Alkaline soils
• Marshy and Peaty soils

Question 2:  Which soil is mainly found in India?
Answer: The Alluvial soils mainly found in India. It occupied an area of 45%.

Question 3: Which is the largest soil in India?
Answer: The Alluvia soil is the largest soil group in India.

Question 4: Which soil is best soil in India?
Answer:  Alluvial soil is best due to high fertility. It contains enough organic matter like Humus which supports easy pant growth.

Question 5:  Highest percentage of soil in India?
Answer:  Alluvial Soil

Question 6: Name the major types of soil in India?
Answer : As per ICAR the major types of soil in India are”  Alluvial soils, Black soils ,  Red soils,  Laterite soils, Forest and Mountain soils,  Arid and Desert soils,  Saline and Alkaline soils and  Marshy and Peaty soils”.

Question 7:  Which types of soil found in Deccan plateau?
Answer:  The Deccan plateau mostly covered by the Black soil or the regur soil.  Some part of the southern part of the Deccan plateau covered by the red soil. Almost all the area of Tamil Nadu covered by this red soil. The Black soil is suitable for the cultivation of Cotton.

Question 8: What are the types of alluvial soil found in India?
Answer:  Two Types of Alluvial soil found in India. These are   Khaddar and Bhangar. Khaddar is the new alluvium soil formed by the deposition of fine silts and Bhangar is the old alluvial soil formed away from the flood plains.

Question 9:  In which state Laterite soil is found?
Answer: The Laterite soil found in the southern part of the Deccan plateau like Kerala, Tami Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The Laterite soil suitable for the cultivation of cashew nut.

Question 10: Which subject deals with the study of Soil?
Answer: Pedology is the subject deals with the study of soil.

Download the PDF of Types of Soil in India  – Click Here

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