Competitive Exams: Indian Geography Soil Wealth

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Soil Wealth

The Indian council of Agricultural Research has indentified eight main types of soil in the country.

Soil cover in India (%)

  1. Alluvial Soil 43.4
  2. RedSoil 18.6
  3. BlackSoil 15.2
  4. Lateritic Soil 12.2
  5. OtherSoil 17.9

Soil Types

The main soil types are:

The Indian council of Agricultural Research has indentified eight main types of soil in the country.

Soil cover in India (%)

  1. Alluvial Soil 43.4
  2. RedSoil 18.6
  3. BlackSoil 15.2
  4. Lateritic Soil 12.2
  5. OtherSoil 17.9

The main soil types are:

Alluvial Soil

It covers 15 lakh Km2

  • Greater parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, U. P, parts of Assam, Orissa, W. Bengal, valleys of Narmada and Tapi
  • Depth of soil exceeds 600m below the ground surface
  • Divided into newer and older; finer and newer alluvium is called Khadar -Khadar is light coloured and is less kankary
  • Bhangar: older alluvium more clayey in composition and generally of dark colours; also becomes Alkaline and is called Bhurs;
  • Khadar soils are more sandy in composition that Bhangar soils


  1. The fertility of the soil is because of the following reasons: Lit is due to more mixing up the debris from the rocks of the Himalayas rather that the prevalence of nitrogenous matters or humus.
  2. These soils are composed of material drawn from different rocks and therefore contain a great variety of salts.
  3. These soils are very fine grained, highly porous and light so that they are easily tilled and are therefore the best agricultural soils of the country.
  4. Crops: rice, sugarcane, tobacco, banana, cotton, wheat, jute, maize, oilseeds and vegetables.

Red and Yellow Soil

It covers about 6.1 lakh km2 of area.

  • Western Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Southern Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chotanagpur plateau of Jharkhand. Scattered patches can be found in Birbhum (W. Bengal) , Mirzapur, Jhansi, Banda, Hamirpur (U. P) , Udaipur, Chiltisgarh, Dungarpur, Banswara and Bhilwara dist. (Rajasthan)
  • The colour is mainly due to ferric oxides occuring as thin coatings on the soil particles while the iron oxide occurs as haematite or as hydrous ferric oxide, the colour is red and when it occurs in the hydrate form as limonite the soil gets a yellow colour
  • These soils are poor in phosphorus, nitrogen and lime contents and are acidic like laterite.
  • Red soils develop generally on metamorphic rocks
  • It is sandier and less clayey
  • It is rich in potash

Black or Regur Soils

  • It covers an area of 5,46, 000 Km2
  • Tracts in A. P, Maharashtra (Tapi, Godavri, Bhima and Krishna) , Karnataka (Bijapur, Gulbarga, Bidar, Belgaum, Dharwar and Raichur) , Gujarat (Surat, Bharuch, Vadodra) , M P (Narmada, Vindhya and Satpura plateau) , Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan (Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar) ; U. P (Jalawn, Hamirpur, Banda and Jhansi) -The black colour is due to the presence of titaniferous magnetite compound of iron and aluminum silicate. It is also believed that black colour is due to admixture with humus on cultivation.
  • These are rich in iron, lime, calcium and magnesium carbonate and alumina. Black soils are poor phosphorous and nitrogen
  • The soil is clayey and fine texture with dark colour Crops: cotton, wheat, chilies, linseed, jawar, Virginia tobacco, castor, millets
  • It develop cracks in hot weather
  • Black soils are ideal for dry farming due to their moisture retentive quality.
  • It becomes sticky due to high percentage of clay and so difficult to plough.

Lateritic Soils

  • It covers an area about 1.26 lakh km2
  • Laterite is a typical soil of the tropical regions which receives heavy seasonal rainfall.
  • Iron and aluminum compounds dominate in its composition
  • It is found in W. Bengal (Midnapur, Burdwan, Birbhum and Bankura) , Orissa (Cuttack and Ganjam) , Maharashtra (Ratnagiri, Satara, Kolaba, Kanara dist.) , Karnataka (Shimoga, Hasan, Kadur, Mysore) , Kerala (Malabar)
  • The soils are generally poor in nitrogen, potassium and organic matters
  • Fertilizers are necessary
  • Cannot retain moisture while in plains they consist of heavy loam and clay and easily retain moisture
  • Crops: rice, ragi, sugarcane, cashewnuts

Saline or Alkaline Salts

  • It covers an area of 68,000 km2
  • Tracts in Rann of Kutch, Sundarbanns, Bihar, UP, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra
  • It is known by different names: Thur, Reh, Kallar, Rakar, Usar, Kari and Chopan
  • Texturally they are sandy to loamy sand
  • Alkaline soils are deficient in calcium and nitrogen
  • Peaty saline soils are called Kari in Kerala
  • Main salts: calcium, sodium and magnesium these soils can be reclaimed by providing good drainage applying lime or gypsum and cultivating salt resistant crops (like berseem, rice and sugarcane) -These soils are utilized in the cultivation of a wide variety of crops like rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane and tobacco etc.

Mountain Soils

  • It is of three types
  • Brown Forest Soils: height 900 - 1800m; rich in humus and are fertile
  • Podzol: 1800m (height) ; thick coniferous forest, maize, wheat and orchids: phosphoric content
  • Alpine Meadow Soil: sandy loam
  • These soils are silty loam to loam in texture and dark brown in colour
  • These are found in hills of deccan, eastern ghats, western ghats, valley and hill slopes of Himalayas etc.
  • These are deficient in potash, phosphoric acid and lime

Desert Soils

  • It covers an area of 14,200km2
  • Tracts in Rajasthan, Haryana, south of Punjab, Thar desert occupies and area of 1,06, 000 alone
  • Clay content is poor and is less than 8 %
  • These are reddish brown
  • Sandy soils are called Bhur -Rich in phosphates and poor in nitrogen
  • Contains high content of soluble salts but low moisture content
  • The soil is sandy to gravelly
  • These soils may be reclaimed with the proper development of irrigation facilities For example, the Ganganagar district benefited by the Indira Gandhi Canal has become a leading producer of cereal and cotton.
  • Crops: millets, jawar bajra jowar and coarse grains

Peaty and Marshy Soil

  • These soils occur mainly in the western parts of Kottayam districts and parts (peaty) of Alappuzha dist. of Kerala -Soil are black and heavy and highly acidic.
  • Highly saline, rich in organic matter but deficient in phosphate and potash. -Marshy soils are found in the coastal regions of Orissa, W. Bengal and Tamil Nadu; Central portion of North Bihar and in Almora district of Uttaranchal.
  • Marshy soils are the result of water logging anaerobic condition of the soils, and the presence of iron and varying amount of organic matter.

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