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Soil Formation

Loose material and uppermost layer of earths crust. Provides nutrients & water to plants.
Next to Water- mans most viatal Natural Resource. Most Significant result of Weathering End product (formed due to) of Decay & Disintegration of ROCKS Continuous & Time consuming Process Soil is DYNAMIC system- detached from environment inert mass of Weathered rock


Factors affecting soil formation:

Climate Vegetation Age of rock Relief and Parent rock

Soil Components
Organic matter Inorganic matter

Living organisms

Dead organisms

Inorganic Fraction Inorganic minerals


Detritu Humus s Organic Fraction

Different soil types develop in different climates.

Soil Profile
During development Soil- from Parent rock- Transformation proceeds certain well defined stages- Series / Horizons Although horizons differ in chemical and physical characteristics Genetically related

Soil Profile = layers in soil observed with depth; Individual layers are horizons
O horizon contains litter on surface, humus + OM beneath A horizon various stages of breakdown of organic matter B horizon mineral soil in which organic compounds have been converted into inorganic C horizon unmodified parent material

Soil development

Formation of particular soil type from a CERTAIN PARENT material- Deccan Traps


Chain of transformation of soil type in to another due to changing environmental conditions Grassland - forest


Removal of top soil by different agents.

Deforestation Overgrazing. Faulty method of Agriculture. Erosion by rivers. Removal of top soil (for bricks, pots, tiles etc) Shifting cultivation.


Loss of cultivable land.
Reduction in soil fertility. Causes silting & may change river course. Results in lots of run off. Reduces percolation of ground water.

Protection of soil from Erosion and Deterioration.

Measures For Soil Conservation:

Contour farming. Mulching ( spreading of grass, leaves on ground). Afforestation and Reforestation. Controlled grazing. Construction of dams and barrages Crop rotation. Sub soiling. Terrace farming.

Genetic Classification
Residual soils suffered no transport, infertile Transported soils-places for offheterogenous Colluvial- moved under gravity- slopes Alluvial- streams, flood, fine, stratified Eolian- wind deposits


Eight major types according to Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Alluvial soils Black soils Red soils Laterite soils Desert soils Mountain soils Saline and Alkaline soils Peaty and Marshy soils

Formed by deposition of alluvium by rivers. Occupies 15 Lakh sqkm area in India. Contribute greatly in agricultural development.

Two types: KHADAR & BHANGAR KHADAR: Newer alluvium.

Sandy, pale brown composition. Found in lower areas. Flooded every year.


BANGAR: Older alluvium.

Clayey & dark in colour. Coarse in nature. Contains Kankar (lime nodules), Pebbles and Gravels. Represents riverine alluvium of Himalayan rivers.


Characteristics: Transported soils.

Coarser in upper section and finest in delta. Light to dark in colour. Rich in Potash & Humus. Poor in Phosphorous and Nitrogen. Highly fertile, good for all crops (kharif & rabi). Crops: Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane, Cotton, Jute. Areas: Punjab, Haryana, U.P, Bihar, W.B, Assam,

Parts of Orissa, delta regions of S.India

Also known as Regur or Black Cotton soil. Dark grey to Black in colour. High clay content. Highly moist retentive. Develops cracks in summer. Covers 5.4 lakh sqkm. Highly suitable for cotton. Rich in iron, lime, calcium, Magnesium, carbonates, and alumina.

Poor in Phosphorous, Nitrogen and Organic matter. Areas: Deccan Trap which includes:

Maharastra, W M.P, Parts of A.P, N Karnataka, Parts of T.N and Rajasthan. Crops: Cotton, Sugarcane, Groundnut, Millets, Rice, Wheat, Oilseeds.


Formed due to weathering of old crystalline rocks.

More sandy and less clayey. Rich in iron, small amount of Humus. Poor in phosphorus, nitrogen and lime. Slightly acidic and do not retain moisture. 3.5 lakhs area. Porous and Friable.


Area :
Tamil Nadu, Southern Karnataka, parts of

Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Eastern Rajasthan, North eastern States.

Crops :
Ragi, Groundnut, millet, Tobacco, Potato,

Rice, Wheat, Sugarcane.


Latin word meaning brick.

Formed under high temperature and rainfall with wet and dry spell. Silica is leached due to high rainfall. Remnants of iron and aluminum oxides left behind is known as Laterite. Brown to Yellowish colour. Becomes hard when exposed to atmosphere. Used as building material.

Rich in Iron. Poor in Lime, Potash, & Magnesium. Occupies 2.4 Lakh sqkm.

Areas: Parts of Assam, Karnataka, T.N, A.P, M.P, Kerala. Crops: Tea, Coffee, Cashew, Rubber

and Coconut.

Contains soluble salts. Originated by Mechanical disintegration & wind deposit. Porous and coarse. 90% sand & 5% clay. Rich in Nitrates & Phosphates. Poor in Nitrogen & Humus. Friable, sandy & low moist content. 1.4 Lakh sqkm.


Rajasthan, S Haryana, Punjab, N Gujarat. Crops: Drought resistant crops like millets and barley.

Areas: Arid and Semi arid regions of

n n

Found in hill slopes. Formed by deposition of organic matter from forest. Rich in humus. Poor in Potash and Lime.

Arunachal Pradesh. Crops: Tea, Coffee, Spices & Tropical Fruits.

Areas: Assam, Kashmir, Sikkim &


Contains salts like Sodium, Magnesium, Calcium. Infertile, unfit for cultivation. Sandy to loamy in texture.

Parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab,

Haryana, U.P & Maharashtra.


Occur in Humid region. Formed by accumulation of organic matter. Black in colour. Highly acidic and heavy.

Kottayam & Alleppey in Kerala, Coastal

Orissa, Sundarbans of W.B

Dark Color Indicates Organic Matter

Soil Texture
Soil texture classified based on % composition as clay, silt, silty clay, loam (mix of all 3 sizes), clay loam, etc. Organic matter = breakdown material derived from living organisms = not included in soil texture Clay type of clay is important for nutrient and water-holding capacity, ability to form aggregates, etc.

Prairie soils have a dark surface layer (horizon), are rich in minerals, and form in grasslands widespread across Earths middle latitudes.

Images: NRCS

Forest soils have a light gray upper horizon, a horizon rich in aluminum and/or iron, and form in warm to cool humid regions where coniferous forests grow.

Tropical soils are reddish and ironoxide rich, depleted in nutrients, and form in humid and warm regions.

Organic soils are dark colored, rich in decomposed organic matter, and form in poorly drained lowlands such as swamps and wetlands.

Desert soils form in arid settings and are commonly rich in calcium carbonate.

Tundra soils form in Arctic environments, have a dark organic-rich upper layer, and a mineral rich layer over frozen ground.

Images: Travis Hudson, Alaska/Yukon Society of Professional Soil Scientists