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Types of Soil in India

Soil types in India: Soil is the mixture of rock debris and organic materials which develop on the earth’s surface. However, whole of the soil is not same and differs in its constituents. In the previous article, we have discussed the different layers of soil. In the next three articles, we will discuss the different types of soil UPSC. Where in this article we will discuss about alluvial soil and black soil.


Types of soil in India

On the basis of genesis, colour, composition and location, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has classified soils into 8 categories.

  • Alluvial Soil
  • Black Cotton Soil
  • Red Soil
  • Laterite Soil
  • Mountainous or Forest Soils
  • Arid or Desert Soil
  • Saline and Alkaline Soil
  • Peaty, and Marshy Soil/Bog Soil


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Alluvial soil

  • Alluvial soils are widespread in the northern plains and the river valley.
  • Alluvial soil is the largest soil group covering about 46 per cent of the total area in India.
  • Since Himalayan rock is the parent material, they are depositional soils, transported and deposited by rivers and streams.


Characteristics of alluvial soil

  • Immature and weak profile due to recent origin.
  • The alluvial soils vary in nature from sandy loam to clay.
  • Pebbly and gravelly soils are rare in this type of soil. Kankar (calcareous concretions) beds are also present in some of the regions.
  • Alluvial soil is porous due to its loamy nature.
  • Alluvial soil is generally good for agriculture as the porosity and texture provides good drainage condition.
  • These soils are continuously replenished by the floods.


Chemical properties of Alluvial soil

  • Alluvial soil is generally rich in potash but poor in phosphorous.
  • The nitrogen percentage is generally low.
  • The colour of the alluvial soils varies from the light grey to ash grey.
  • Its shades depend on the depth of the deposition, the texture of the materials, and the time taken for attaining maturity.


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Presence of alluvial soil in India

  • Apart from the northern plains, they are found in the plains of Gujarat. In the Peninsular region, they are found in deltas of the east coast and in the river valleys.
  • They also occur in deltas of the Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Cauvery. Here the soil is called deltaic alluvium.


Crops grown in alluvial soil

  • Alluvial soil is best suited for agriculture and irrigation.
  • They support crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, tobacco, cotton, jute, maize, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits.


Read about geological divisions of alluvial soils like Bhabar, Khadar, bhangra, terai here.


Black soil

  • Parent rock for most of the black soil are the volcanic in origin that were formed in the Deccan Plateau.
  • These are found in the region of high temperature and low rainfall.
  • These soils are also known as the ‘Regur Soil’ or the ‘Black Cotton Soil.


Characteristics of black soil

  • The black soils are generally clayey, deep and impermeable.
  • In general, black soils are more fertile in the uplands than the valleys.
  • They swell and become sticky when they are wet and shrink when are dried.
  • So, during the dry season, these soils develop wide cracks due to which they are called self-ploughing.
  • The black soil retains the moisture for a very long time because of slow absorption and loss of moisture which helps the crops, especially, the rain fed ones, to sustain even during the dry season.


Chemical properties of black soil

  • Black soils are rich in lime, iron, magnesia and alumina.
  • They also contain potash. But they lack in phosphorous, nitrogen and organic matter.
  • The colour of the soil ranges from deep black to grey.


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Presence of black soil in India

  • Black soil covers most of the Deccan Plateau which includes parts of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Tamil Nadu.
  • In the upper reaches of the Godavari and the Krishna, and the north western part of the Deccan Plateau, the black soil is very deep.


Crops grown in black soil

  • Black soils are best suited for cotton crop. Hence the name black cotton soil.
  • Other major crops: Wheat, jowar, linseed, tobacco, castor, sunflower and millets.
  • Rice and sugarcane are grown where irrigation facilities are available.
  • Black soil also supports the growth of large varieties of vegetables and fruits.
  • This soil has been used for growing a variety of crops for centuries without adding fertilizers and manures.

Read about red soil, laterite soil and forest or mountain soil in this article.

Geography notes for UPSC

River Drainage Pattern: Understanding different drainage pattern of India Major and Minor Ports in India Major Dams in India: Major Dams and Hydropower Projects in India The Grasslands of the World
Highest Peak of India: Names of States where Highest Peaks are Located Physical Features of India: The Peninsular Plateau Physical features of India: The Islands Physical features of India: The Indian Desert
Physical features of India: The Coastal Plains of India Physical Features of India: The Himalayas 2021 Beating the Heat: A Sustainable Cooling Handbook for Cities Impact of Climate Change in North East India

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