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Soils of India: Six Different Types of Soils Found in India

Soil is our prime natural and economic resource. Soils in India differ in
composition and structure.

1. Alluvial Soils:
These are formed by the deposition of sediments by rivers. They are rich in humus
and very fertile. They are found in Great Northern plain, lower valleys of Narmada
and Tapti and Northern Gujarat. These soils are renewed every year.
ALLUVIAL SOILS
Alluvial soils are widespread. They occur throughout the Indo-Gangetic Plain and
along the lower courses of virtually all the countrys major rivers (especially the
deltas along the east coast). The nondeltaic plains along Indias coasts are also
marked by narrow ribbons of alluvium.
New alluvium found on much of the Indo-Gangetic floodplain is called khadar and
is extremely fertile and uniform in texture; conversely, the old alluvium on the
slightly elevated terraces, termed bhangar, carries patches of alkaline
efflorescences, calledusar, rendering some areas infertile. In the Ganges basin,
sandy aquifers holding an enormous reserve of groundwater ensure irrigation and
help make the plain the most agriculturally productive region of the country.
Climate
India provides the worlds most-pronounced example of a monsoon climate. The
wet and dry seasons of the monsoon system, along with the annual temperature
fluctuations, produce three general climatic periods over much of the country: (1)
hot, wet weather from about mid-June to the end of September, (2) cool, dry

weather from early October to February, and (3) hot, dry weather (though normally
with high atmospheric humidity) from about March to mid-June. The actual
duration of these periods may vary by several weeks, not only from one part of
India to another but also from year to year. Regional differences, which are often
considerable, result from a number of internal factorsincluding elevation, type of
relief, and proximity to bodies of water.

2. Black Soils:
These soils are made up of volcanic rocks and lava-flow. It is concentrated over
Deccan Lava Tract which includes parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya
Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It consists of Lime, Iron,
Magnesium and also Potash but lacks in Phosphorus, Nitrogen and Organic matter.
BLACK SOILS
Among the in situ soils of India, the black soils found in the lava-covered areas are
the most conspicuous. These soils are often referred to as regur but are popularly
known as black cotton soils, since cotton has been the most common traditional
crop in areas where they are found. Black soils are derivatives of trap lava and are
spread mostly across interior Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya
Pradesh on the Deccan lava plateau and the Malwa Plateau, where there is both
moderate rainfall and underlying basaltic rock. Because of their high clay content,

black soils develop wide cracks during the dry season, but their iron-rich granular
structure makes them resistant to wind and water erosion. They are poor in humus
yet highly moisture-retentive, thus responding well to irrigation. These soils are
also found on many peripheral tracts where the underlying basalt has been shifted
from its original location by fluvial processes. The sifting has only led to an
increased concentration of clastic contents.

3. Red Soils:
These are derived from weathering of ancient metamorphic rocks of Deccan
Plateau. Its redness is due to iron composition. When iron content is lower it is
yellow or brown. They cover almost the whole of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh,
Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Orissa.
Red soil
Red soil is any of a group of soils that develop in a warm, temperate, moist climate
under deciduous or mixed forests and that have thin organic and organic-mineral
layers overlying a yellowish-brown leached layer resting on an illuvial (see
illuviation) red layer. Red soils generally form from iron-rich sedimentary rock.
They are usually poor growing soils, low in nutrients and humus and difficult to
cultivate. Red soils denote the second largest soil group of India covering an area
of about 6.1 lakhs sq. km (18.6% of India's area) over the Peninsula from Tamil
Nadu in the south to Bundelkhand in the north and Rajmahal hills in the east to
Kachchh in the west. They surround the black soils on their south, east and north.

Distribution
These soils are found in large tracts of western Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, southern
Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Chotanagpur plateau of
Jharkhand. Scattered patches are also seen in Birbhum (West Bengal), Mirzapur,
Jhansi, Banda, Hamirpur (Uttar Pradesh), Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Dungarpur,
Banswara and Bhilwara districts (Rajasthan).
Content
This soil, also known as the omnibus group, have been developed over Archaean
granite, gneiss and other crystalline rocks, the sedimentaries of the Cuddapah and
Vindhayan basins and mixed Dharwarian group of rocks. Their colour is mainly
due to ferric oxides occurring 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. Ordinarily the
surface soils are red while the horizon below gets yellowish colour.
Characteristics
The texture of red soils varies from sand to clay, the majority being loam. Their
other characteristics include porous and friable structure, absence of lime, kankar
and free carbonates, and small quantity of soluble salts. Their chemical
composition include non-soluble material 90.47%, iron 3.61%, aluminium 2.92%,
organic matter 1.01%, magnesium 0.70%, lime 0.56%, carbon-Di-oxide 0.30%,
potash 0.24%, soda 0.12%, phosphorus 0.09% and nitrogen 0.08%. However
significant regional differences are observed in the chemical composition.
In general these soils are deficient in lime, magnesia, phosphates, nitrogen, humus
and potash. Intense leaching is a menace to these soils. On the uplands, they are
thin, poor and gravelly, sandy, or stony and porous, light-colored soils on which
food crops like bajra can be grown. But on the lower plains and valleys they are
rich, deep, dark colored fertile loam on which, under irrigation, can produce
excellent crops like cotton, wheat, pulses, tobacco, jowar, linseed, millet, potatoes
and fruits. These are also characterized by stunted forest growth and are suited to
dry farming.

4. Laterite Soils:
These soils are formed due to intense leaching and are well developed on the summits of hills and uplands. They are commonly found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu,
Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and hilly areas of Orissa and Assam.

5. Mountain Soils:
These soils are formed as a result of the accumulation of organic matter derived
from forest growth. They are found in Himalayan region and vary in different
regions according to altitude. Tea is grown in those areas which receive sufficient
rainfall.

6. Desert Soils:
In the desert regions of Rajasthan, soils are not well developed. As evaporation is
in excess of rainfall, the soil has a high salt content and saline layer forms a hard
crust. These soils are generally sandy and deficient in organic matter.