Table of Contents
Types of Soil in India
The mixture of organic materials and rock fragments that forms on the surface of the ground is known as soil. Relief, parent material, climate, time, biodiversity, and human activities are the main elements influencing soil formation. India is a diversified nation, with a wide range of topographic characteristics, landforms, climatic zones, and flora kinds. These have helped to generate different Types of Soil in India. The majority of the components of soil include mineral/rock particles, fragments of decomposed organic materials, soil water, soil air, and living organisms. Parent material, relief, climate, vegetation, life forms, and time are the main variables that affect how soil is formed.
The four components of soil are air, water, organic matter (decayed and decomposed plants and animals), and inorganic or mineral portion derived from the parent material. The complicated process of soil creation known as “pedogenesis” occurs under specific natural conditions, and each component of the environment plays a part in this process.
The horizon is the term for each soil layer, each of which has a unique texture:
- Horizon A (Topsoil): It is the uppermost layer where organic components have combined with the minerals, nutrients, and water elements required for plant growth.
- Horizon B (Subsoil): Compared to other zones, this one contains a higher concentration of minerals and less humus. It is a transition between Horizon A and Horizon C and contains stuff that was derived both from below and above.
- Horizon C (weathered and decomposed rock): Loose parent/rock material makes up this zone. The two layers above are eventually formed from this layer, which is the first step in the development of soil.
Major Types of Soil in India
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has categorized soils in India into eight types:
1. Alluvial Soil
The deposition of river sediments results in the formation of alluvial soil. Due to the fact that the majority of rivers originate in the Himalayas, they carry a significant amount of sediment that settles on the river’s banks. Particles like clay, sand, and slit make up the alluvial soil. Due to the necessary levels of potash, lime, and phosphoric acid in alluvial soil, it is very fertile. There are two types of alluvial soil: new alluvium, also known as khadar, and old alluvium, also known as Bangar. In peninsular India, the deltas of numerous rivers, including the Mahanadi, Kaveri, Godavari, and Krishna, include alluvial soil. The crops grown on alluvial soil include wheat, maize, sugarcane, rice, legumes, and oilseeds. The soil is a light green colour. The Northern Plains, from Punjab to West Bengal and Assam, contain alluvial soil.
2. Black Soil
Black soil, often known as “regur” (derived from the Telugu word “reguda”), is composed of volcanic boulders and lava. Cotton is the main crop grown in soil that is black. This soil has a sufficient amount of potash, magnesium carbonate, and calcium carbonate to support the growth of cotton crops. The southern states of India—Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu—as well as Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh—are also home to black soil. Black soil has a better capacity for storing water and retains a lot of moisture. In black soil, you can produce crops like cotton, wheat, millet, and tobacco.
3. Red & Yellow Soil
The “omnibus group,” often known as red and yellow soil. About 18.5% of the nation’s total land area is covered by it. It is located in areas with little rainfall (eastern and southern parts of the Deccan Plateau). Red loamy soil covers a significant portion of the Western Ghats’ piedmont zone. Additionally, portions of Chattisgarh, Odisha, and the southern Middle Ganga Plain all contain this soil. Iron is a component in crystalline and metamorphic rocks, which accounts for the red color. When the soil is moistened, it takes on a yellow appearance. Red and yellow soil with fine grains is typically more fruitful than coarse-grained soil. In general, this sort of soil is lacking in humus, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Red and yellow soil is mostly used for the cultivation of wheat, cotton, oilseeds, millets, tobacco, and pulses.
4. Desert Soil
More than 4.42% of the nation’s total land area is covered by desert soil, sometimes referred to as arid soil. The color ranges is between red colors to brown color. Desert soils have a sandy to gravelly texture, low moisture content, and a low capacity to retain water. These soils are naturally salinous, and in certain areas the salt content is so high that common salt can only be produced by evaporating water. Despite having a typical phosphate level, these soils lack nitrogen. Kankar layers are created as a result of the soil’s lower horizons’ higher calcium concentration. These kankar layers prevent water from penetrating, thus when irrigation is used to provide water, the soil moisture is easily accessible for healthy plant growth. Western Rajasthan has a significant amount of desert soils, which are deficient in humus and organic matter.
5. Laterite Soil
The name is taken from the Latin word “later,” which meaning brick. It makes up around 3.7% of the nation’s total area. These are typical monsoon soils, which are distinguished by seasonal rainfall. Rain causes soils rich in iron oxide and aluminum to be washed away together with lime and silica, creating laterite soil. Iron oxide and potash are abundant, but the laterite soil is low in organic matter, nitrogen, phosphate, and calcium. They are not very fertile, but they do well with manures and fertilizers. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and the hilly region of Assam and Odisha all have laterite soils. For the development of tree crops like cashew nuts, red laterite soil is best suited in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Due to the fact that laterite soil quickly and permanently hardens when exposed to air, southern India uses it to make building bricks.
6. Mountain Soil
Mountain soil can be found in forested areas when there is enough precipitation. The mountainous terrain in which they are situated affects the soil’s texture. These soils are loamy and silty on the valley sides and coarse-grained on the upper slopes. These soils in the Himalayas’ snow-covered regions are acidic, denuded, and have little humus. The lower valleys’ soils are rich in fertility.
7. Alkaline Soils
This type of soil is extremely infertile and has high levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium. As a result of the dry climate and inadequate drainage, this type of soil contains a lot of salt. The soil is found in dry and semi-arid regions and is lacking in calcium and nitrogen. The soil fertility can be restored by enhancing irrigation and drainage, adding gypsum, and growing crops that can withstand salt. Most of these states—Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Maharashtra—have these kinds of soils. Leguminous plants can be grown in the soil.
8. Peaty and Marshy Soils
Due to the high concentration of organic materials that accumulate in the soil as a result of the humid climate, peaty soil is created. Phosphorus and potash levels in the soil are low. Few districts in Kerala have peaty soils, while the coasts of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Uttaranchal, and West Bengal’s Sundarbans have marshy soil. Black and very acidic, peaty soil possesses these characteristics. This type of soil contains a significant amount of soluble salts and contains between 10 and 40 percent organic content.
Types of Soil in Indian Forest
Types of Forest Soils
|Brown Forest Soil
|Alpine Meadow soil
Classification of Different Types of Soil in India: USDA Soil Taxonomy
Order of Soils in India
What is Soil Erosion?
Topsoil removal is referred to as soil erosion. Both the processes of soil formation and erosion take place at the same time, and typically there is a balance between the two. However, occasionally the equilibrium is upset, which causes soil to be removed more quickly than it is produced. This is known as soil erosion. While wind causes soil erosion in arid and semi-arid locations, water is the primary cause of soil erosion in places with heavy rainfall. The major types of water erosion are sheet erosion and gully erosion.
- Sheet erosion, which occurs on flat fields after a strong downpour, is the removal of topsoil.
- Gully erosion is a phenomenon that frequently occurs on steep slopes and occurs when runoff creates gullies.
- Gully depths increase with rains, slicing agricultural lands into tiny pieces that are unusable for farming.
- A location with several deep gullies or ravines is referred to as having “badland topography.” The Chambal valley provides an example of gully erosion that is typical (Madhya Pradesh). They can also be found in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
As a result of soil erosion, eroded materials are carried downstream by rivers, reducing their capacity to carry water and increasing the likelihood of frequent flooding and damage to agricultural regions. The soils along the coastline sustain significant damage from the tidal waters of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Severe sea-wave erosion can be seen on beaches in Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
One of the main causes of soil erosion, deforestation is especially noticeable in the country’s hilly regions. Intensive agricultural practices that rely heavily on water and chemical fertilizers have caused water logging and salinity in many parts of the country, reducing the fertility of the soil in the long run. The River Valley Projects, which were the first to benefit from the Green Revolution, almost everywhere have this issue. According to estimates, about half of the total land of India is under some degree of degradation. . The agents of soil degradation cause India to lose millions of tonnes of soil and its nutrients each year, which has a negative impact on our nation’s productivity.
Soil Conservation & its Methods
Soil conservation is a method for preserving soil fertility, halting soil erosion, and repairing degraded soil. Farming strategies and management techniques referred to as soil conservation procedures seek to reduce soil erosion by preventing or minimising soil particle separation and its transmission in the air or water.
Contour bunding, contour terracing, controlled grazing, regulated forestry, cover crops, mixed farming, and crop rotation are a few of the corrective techniques used to stop soil erosion. Planting trees aids in minimizing soil erosion, and it’s also crucial to stop the indiscriminate removal of trees. Floods mostly occur during the rainy season. Therefore, it is necessary to make steps to store floodwater or to divert extra rain. A possible method for connecting rivers is the Ganga-Kaveri link Canal Project. Restoration of gullies and ravines is necessary to address the problem of soil erosion. In the Chambal ravines in Madhya Pradesh, several such programs that involve plugging gully mouths, building bunds across the gullies, leveling the gullies, and planting cover plants are being implemented.
One of the biggest contributors to soil erosion in the Western and Eastern Ghats, as well as in northeast India, is shifting cropping (slash and burn). Such farmers need to be encouraged to switch to terraced agriculture. In the seven states of northeast India, a plan has been launched to regulate shifting farming. This initiative is beneficiary-focused and strives to rehabilitate the families who engage in shifting cultivation (Jhumming). Sedentary farming should take the place of this agricultural technique.