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Some of these soils contain high percentages of soluble salts, are alkaline with varying degree

of calcium carbonate and are poor in organic matter. Over large parts, the calcium content
increases downwards and in certain areas the subsoil has ten times calcium as compared to
that of the top soil.
The phosphate content of these soils is as high as in normal alluvial soils. Nitrogen is
originally low but its deficiency is made up to some extent by the availability of nitrogen in
the form of nitrates. Thus, the presence of phosphates and nitrates make them fertile soils
wherever moisture is available. Some of the laterite soils in Kerala, Karnataka, Chota Nagpur
region of Jharkhand, Orissa and Assam respond well to the application of fertilizers like
nitrogen, phosphorus and pmantle of sand which inhibits soil growth. This sand has
originated from the mechanical disintegration of the ground rocks or is blown from the Indus
basin and the coast by the prevailing south-west monsoon winds. Barren sandy soils without
clay factor are also common in coastal regions of Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The desert
soils consist of aeolian sand (90 to 95 per cent) and clay (5 to 10 per cent).

There is, therefore, great possibility of reclaiming these soils if proper irrigation facilities are
available. The changes in the cropping pattern in the Indira Gandhi Canal Command Area are
a living example of the utility of the desert soils. However, in large areas of desert soils, only
the drought resistant and salt tolerant crops such as barley, rape, cotton, wheat, millets, maize
and pulses are grown. Consequently, these soils support a low density of population.

7. Saline and Alkaline Soils:


These soils are found in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In the drier parts of Bihar, Uttar
Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, there are salt-impregnated or alkaline
soils occupying 68,000 sq km of area. These soils are liable to saline and alkaline
efflorescences and are known by different names such as reh, kallar, usar, thur, rakar, karl
and chopan.
otassium. In some areas, these soils support grazing grounds and scrub forests.
Laterite and lateritic soils have a unique distinction of providing valuable building material.
These soils can be easily cut with a spade but hardens like iron when exposed to air. Because
it is the end- product of weathering, it cannot be weathered much further and is indefinitely
durable.
slopes According to majority opinion, the laterite soil is formed under conditions of high
temperature and heavy rainfall with alternate wet and dry periods. According to Polynov,
laterite soils may be the end products of weathering given sufficiently long time.
In the opinion of George Kuriyan, It is probably the end product of decomposition found in
regions of heavy rainfall, more than 200 cm Such climatic conditions promote leaching of
soil whereby lime and silica are leached away and a soil rich in oxides of iron and aluminium
compounds is left behind.
We have numerous varieties of laterite which have bauxite at one end and an indefinite
mixture of ferric oxides at the other5. Forest and Mountain Soils:

Such soils are mainly found on the hill. Almost all laterite soils are very poor in lime and
magnesia and deficient in nitrogen. Sometimes, the phosphate content may be high, probably
present in the form of iron phosphate but potash is deficient. At some places, there may be
higher content of humus.
Laterite and lateritic soils are widely spread in India and cover an area of 2.48 lakh sq km.
They are mainly found on the summits of Western Ghats at 1000 to 1500 m above mean sea
level, Eastern Ghats, the Rajamahal Hills, Vindhyas, Satpuras and Malwa Plateau.
They also occur at lower levels and in valleys in several other parts of the country. They are
well developed in south Maharashtra, parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West
Bengal, Kerala, Jharkhand, Assam and Meghalaya.
Due to intensive leaching and low base exchange capacity, typical laterite soils generally lack
fertility and are of little use for crop production. But when manured and irrigated, some
laterites and lateritics are suitable for growing plantation crops like tea, coffee, rubber,
cinchona, coconut, arecanut, etc. In low lying areas paddy is also grown.
covered by forests. These soils occupy about 2.85 lakh sq km which is about 8.67 per cent of
the total land area of India. The formation of these soils is mainly governed by the