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Chapter: 10th Social Science : Geography : Chapter 3 : India - Agriculture

Types and Characteristics of Soils in India

Soil is the uppermost layer of the land surface, usually composed of minerals, organic matter, living organisms, air and water.


Soil is the uppermost layer of the land surface, usually composed of minerals, organic matter, living organisms, air and water. Grains in the soil are of three categories namely, clay, silt, and sand. Soils are generally formed by the weathering of rocks under different conditions. Some soils are formed by the deposition of agents of denudation. Soils can vary greatly from one region to the other.


Types of Soils

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) set up in 1953 divides the soils of India into the following eight major groups. They are

1. Alluvial soil

2. Black soils

3. Red soils

4. Laterite soils

5. Forest and mountain soils

6. Arid and desert soils

7. Saline and alkaline soils

8. Peaty and marshy soils





Alluvial soil:

Khadar – light coloured, more siliceous.

Bhangar – the older alluvium composed of lime nodules and has clayey composition. It is dark in colour.

Formation - sediments deposited by streams and rivers when they slowly loose

Chemical properties - rich in potash, phosphoric acid, lime and carbon compounds but poor in nitrogen

Nature –Sandy-loam-silt-clay profile shows no marked differentiation


Black soils:

Formation - Derived from basalts of Deccan trap.

Colour - black colour, due to presence of titanium, iron.

Chemical properties - Consist of calcium and magnesium corbonates, high quantities of iron, aluminium, lime and magnesia.

Rich in potash lime, Aluminium calcium and magnesium poor in Nitrogen Phosphoric acid and humus

Nature - Sticky when wet High degree of moisture retentivity


Red soils:

Formation - decomposition of ancient crystalline rocks like granites and gneisses and from rock type

Chemical properties - rich in minerals such as iron and magnesium.

Deficient in nitrogen, humus, phosphoric acid and lime.

Nature - Light texture, porous friable presence of limited soluble salts Clay fraction of the red soils generally consists of Kaolinitic minerals.


Laterite soils:

Formation - formed in the regions where alternate wet and hot dry conditions prevail. It is formed by the process of leaching

Chemical properties - Composed mainly of hydrated oxides of iron and aluminium,

Nature - More acidic on higher areas poor in high level, cannot retain moisture while plains they consist of heavy loam and clay and easily retain moisture


Forest and mountain soils

Differ from region to region depending on climate.

Formation - due to mechanical weathering caused by snow, rain, temperature variation

Chemical properties - are deficient in potash, Phosphorus and lime.

Nature - light, sandy, thin and found with the pieces of rock. Their character changes with the parent rocks. Very rich in humus. slow decomposition makes it acidic


Arid and desert soils

Formation - Due to prevalence of the dry climate, hightemperature and accelerated evaporation, the soil is dry, it also lacks humus content due to the absence of vegetative cover

Chemical properties - Contain high percentages of soluble salts, alkaline with varying degree of calcium carbonate and are poor in organic matter; rich enough in phosphate though poor in nitrogen

Nature - light in colour, low humus,friable structure, low in moisture


Saline and alkaline soils

Formation - formed due to ill drainage which causes water logging, injurious salts are transferred from subsurface to the top soil by the capillary action, it causes the salinisation of soils

Chemical properties - liberate sodium, magnesium and calcium salts and sulphurous acid

Nature - Consists of an excess of sodium salts and mineral fragments which are weathering


Peaty and marshy soils

Formation - formed in humid regions from the organic matter. It is found in the areas of heavy rainfall and high humidity Peaty soils are black, heavyand highly acidic.

Chemical properties - deficient in potash and phosphate.

Nature - Contain considerable amount of Soluble salts and 10-40 per cent of organic matter; and high proportion of vegetable matter.

Soil degradation: Soil degradation is an acute problem in India. According to a 2015 report of the Indian institute of remote sensing (IIRS). The estimated the amount of soil .erosion that occurred in India was 147 million hectares.

The main problems of the Indian soils are i) soil erosion (sheet erosion, Rill erosion, Gully erosion, Ravine and Badland) ii) Degradation of Soil, iii) Water-logging, iv) Saline and Alkaline, and v) Salt Flats, types of soils are different erosion.

Methods of Conservation and Management of Soil

1. Afforestation

2. Constructing Dams and Barrages

3. Prevention of Overgrazing

4. Improved methods of Agricultural practices

Contour method, Rotation of crops, Contour bunding, Strip cropping, Planting of shelter belts, Adopting the techniques of sustainable agriculture are different conservation methods for better soil management.

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10th Social Science : Geography : Chapter 3 : India - Agriculture : Types and Characteristics of Soils in India |

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