Types of Soil in India – Geography Notes PDF in English & Hindi for UPSC & Other Competitive Exams

Types of Soil in India: Understanding the different soil types in India is essential for agricultural planning and land use. Farmers and land managers need to consider the characteristics and limitations of each soil type to make informed decisions about crop selection, irrigation, and soil improvement practices.

Types of Soil in India

India is known for its diverse soil types, thanks to its vast geographical and climatic variations. The country’s soils are broadly categorized into the following types:

  1. Alluvial Soil
  2. Black Cotton Soil
  3. Red & Yellow Soil
  4. Laterite Soil
  5. Mountainous or Forest Soil
  6. Arid or Desert Soil
  7. Saline and Alkaline Soil
  8. Peaty and Marshy Soil

As mentioned above, there are eight types of soils categorized by ICAR but some Indian Soils like – Karewa soil, Sub-Montane Soil, Snowfield, Grey/Brown Soil are all sub-types of main Indian Soil. Let’s read about them one by one:

  1. Alluvial Soil:
    • Alluvial soils are the most widespread and fertile soils in India.
    • They are found in the northern plains, along the Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins, as well as in deltas and coastal regions.
    • Alluvial soils are rich in minerals and organic matter, making them suitable for various crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton.
  2. Black Soil (Regur Soil):
    • Black soils are known for their dark color and high moisture retention capacity.
    • They are primarily found in the Deccan Plateau, especially in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and parts of Gujarat.
    • These soils are rich in clay and minerals like calcium and magnesium and are well-suited for crops like cotton, soybeans, and sorghum.
  3. Red and Yellow Soil:
    • Red and yellow soils are characterized by their reddish or yellowish color and are often found in hilly and upland areas.
    • They are prevalent in states like Odisha, Jharkhand, and parts of Karnataka.
    • These soils are generally low in fertility and require proper management and soil amendments for cultivation. They are suitable for crops like pulses, oilseeds, and millets.
  4. Laterite Soil:
    • Laterite soils are rich in iron and aluminum oxides and are often found in regions with heavy rainfall.
    • They are primarily found in the western and eastern coastal regions, as well as parts of the Western Ghats.
    • Laterite soils can become hard when dry and soft when wet, making them challenging for agriculture. However, they can be used for crops like cashews, rubber, and tea.
  5. Arid and Desert Soil:
    • Arid and desert soils are found in the arid and semi-arid regions of northwestern India, including Rajasthan, Haryana, and parts of Gujarat.
    • They are characterized by low organic content and high salinity.
    • These soils are challenging for agriculture, but with proper irrigation and soil reclamation measures, some crops like millets, pulses, and oilseeds can be grown.
  6. Forest and Mountain Soil:
    • Forest and mountain soils are found in hilly and forested areas, including the Himalayan region and the Western and Eastern Ghats.
    • These soils vary widely in composition and are suitable for a range of horticultural and plantation crops.
  7. Peat and Marshy Soil:
    • Peat and marshy soils are found in marshy and waterlogged areas like the Sundarbans in West Bengal.
    • They are often acidic and require proper drainage for agricultural use.
  8. Saline and Alkaline Soil:

    • Saline and alkaline soils have high salt content and are often found in arid and semi-arid regions.
    • They are generally unsuitable for agriculture, but with proper management practices, some salt-tolerant crops can be grown.

Classification of Indian Soil as per USDA

The ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) has classified Indian soil on the basis of its nature and characteristics as per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Soil Taxonomy.

S.No Order  Percentage
1. Inceptisols  39.74
2.  Entisols  28.08
3.  Alfisols  13.55
4.  Vertisols  8.52 
5. Aridisols  4.28
6.  Ultisols  2.51
7.  Mollisols  0.40
8.  Others  2.92 
                    Total   –   100

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By Team Learning Mantras