Soil is the uppermost loose layer of the Earth’s crust. India because of its huge size and diverse climatic conditions has different types of soils. These soils differ in their colour, texture and mineral content. This article talks about the different types of soils in India and the major crops grown in these soils.
Types of soils in India
Alluvial soil is the most widespread soil in North India. The soil got its name from the word ‘Alluvium’. Alluvium is material brought by the flowing water. Alluvial soil is found in the Indo-Gangetic plains, Brahmaputra plains, eastern coastal plains, and parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is one of the most fertile soils in India but generally lacks Nitrogen. The soil is fine in texture with a considerable amount of sand, silt, and clay. Major crops grown in alluvial soil are sugarcane, cereals and fibres.
Black soil is found in areas with past volcanic activity. It is also known as Regur or black cotton soil. Found in the Deccan plateau, Black soil has high clay content and is iron-rich. The most common crops grown in Black soil are Cotton, sugarcane, wheat, etc.
Red soil as the name suggests is reddish in colour. The red colour is because of the iron oxides present in the soil. Red soil is one of the most widespread soils in India found in southern, eastern and north-eastern states. The coastal regions of Maharashtra and Goa also have red soil. Formed after the weathering of crystalline and metamorphic rocks, red soil generally has low nutrient content and low water holding capacity. Major crops cultivated in red soil are rice, pulses, and millet.
Laterite soil is not as widespread as alluvial or black soil. The soil got its name from the Latin word ‘later’ meaning brick. These soil are generally seen in humid tropical areas with distinct dry and wet seasons. Laterite soil is also reddish in colour due to the presence of iron oxides. These soils become hard during the dry season.
Laterite soil is not very fertile and is found in parts of the Chota Nagpur plateau, western ghats and Meghalaya. Some areas of Southern and western India also have laterite soils. Major crops grown in Laterite soils are tea, coffee, rubber, etc.
Arid soil as the name suggests is found in areas of low precipitation. In India, Arid soil is mainly seen in Rajasthan, parts of Haryana, Punjab, and Gujarat. These soils are rich in calcium and salts and have a sandy appearance. The main crops cultivated in arid soil are barley, cotton, wheat, etc.
Found mainly in the Himalayan states, these soils are rich in organic matter but deficient in some critical plant nutrients like potassium and phosphorus. Mountain soils are fertile in the lower valleys but not as fertile on the slopes.