Different types of soil in India with examples

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Types of soil in India: It is a vital chapter of Indian geography. Different questions from this chapter are often asked in various competitive exams like SSC, RAIL, State PSC, CDS, and UPSC. Here we provide a brief note on the different types of soil in India.

Introduction

•  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 that 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 Factors of Soil

•  Soil is an important factor in our ecosystem, and it contains both biotic and abiotic factors.

Biotic factors
• Biotic factors include living things like various organisms, insects, plants, and animals.

Abiotic factor
 • Abiotic factor includes non-living things like minerals, water, and air.

•  Silicate minerals are the most common minerals found in the earth’s crusts. The 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 Sulfur.

Composition of Soil

• Soil is made up of five main components. It includes__

1.  Mineral matter is obtained by the disintegration and decomposition of rocks by pressure and temperature.

2.  Organic matter 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 the 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 was 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, soil can be divided into 3 categories
• Red
• Yellow
• Black

Types 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, coloru, 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 Types of soil as per Indian standard

Alluvial Soil 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 the east.

• The colour of the alluvial soils varies from mild gray to ash gray.
• Shades depends 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 because it supports wide plant 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 rivers known as – Deltic Alluvium

 ♦ Suitable Crops

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

Black Soil 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-plowed soil.

• Because of this individual 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 gray.
• Percentage of the Back soil in India is 18.5%. 

Area covered

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

 Composition

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

 ♦ Suitable Crops

• Cotton, Tobacco, Castor, Wheat, Jowar, millet, Sunflower.

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

 Red and Yellow Soil of India

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.

Area Covered

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

 ♦ Composition

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

 ♦ Suitable Crops

• Cotton, Wheat, Rice, Pulse, Tobacco, millet.

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 used as bricks for building houses.
• Laterite soil is the end-product of weathering.
• It cannot be weathered much further.
• Percentage of laterite soil in India is 2.62%.

Area Covered

Tamil Nadu
• Andhra Pradesh
• Kerala

 ♦ Composition

• Rich in Iron oxide, Potash, and aluminum compounds.
• Poor in Organic matter, nitrogen, and phosphate.

Suitable Crops

• Cashew nut, Tea, Coffee, Coconut, Rubber, Cinchona, Cotton, Wheat, Rice, Pulse, Tobacco, millet.

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, and Tamil Nadu.

Composition

• 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

Rajasthan
• Gujarat (Rann of Kutch)
• Adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana lie between the Indus and Aravalis.

 ♦ Composition

• 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 high salt content due to dry climate and poor drainage.
Known by 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.

 ♦ Composition

• 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 areas of heavy rainfall and high humidity.
• Supports good growth of plants
• Huge quantities of dead organic matter are present in this soil.
• This offers rich humus and organic content to the soil.
• Organic matter up to 40-50 percent.
• 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.

Composition

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

Suitable Crops

• Mostly suitable for Paddy Cultivation.

Overview of the Types of soil as per Indian standard   

Soil NameLocationRich inDeficient In
Alluvial SoilIndo-Gangetic Plain, River ValleysPotashNitrogen
Black SoilDeccan 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 SoilTamil Nadu, Parts of Karnataka,
West Bengal (Bankura, Birbhum)
Iron OxideNitrogen, Phosphorous, and Humus.
Laterite soilsKarnataka, Kerala,
Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh,
Iron Oxide, PotashOrganic matter, Nitrogen,
Phosphate and Calcium
Forest and
Mountain Soils
Forest area of
Tamil Nadu, Kerala
Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh
Uttarakhand
HumusPotash, Phosphorus, Lime
Arid and Desert SoilRajasthan and adjoining areas
of Punjab and Haryana
Rann of Kutch
Soluble Slats, Alkaline,
Calcium Carbonate
Organic Matter
Saline SoilGujarat, Uttar Pradesh
Maharashtra, West Bengal
and Rajasthan
Salt of Calcium, Magnesium
sulfurous acid and Sodium
Humus, Nitrogen

Frequently Asked Questions on Types of soil in India

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: Alluvial soils are 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 the best soil in India?

Answer:  Alluvial soil is best due to its high fertility. It contains enough organic matter like Humus, which supports easy plant 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 are found in the Deccan plateau?

Answer:  The Deccan plateau is mostly covered by Black soil or regur soil.  Some part of the southern part of the Deccan plateau is covered by red soil. Almost all the area of Tamil Nadu is 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 are 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 floodplains.

Question 9:  In which state Laterite soil is found?

Answer: The Laterite soil is found in the southern part of the Deccan plateau like Kerala, Tami Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. The Laterite soil is suitable for the cultivation of cashew nuts.

Question 10: Which subject deals with the study of Soil?

Answer: Pedology is the subject that deals with the study of soil.

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