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Soil is the uppermost layer of the earths crust capable

of supporting life. It is a mixture of minerals, such as
sand and clay, as well as organic matter, such as
decayed leaves, flowers, bacteria and earthworms. It
also contains moisture and air.
The process of formation of soil is called pedogenesis.
Factors that affect soil formation are:
Parent Material
Climatic Conditions
Weathering of Rocks and Erosion
Living Things (such as plants and animals)
Surface Relief and Drainage
Characteristics of Fertile Soil are:
It contains adequate amount of moisture in order to
supply essential nutrients to the plant.
It has sufficient depth to enable the plants to grow
their roots as per their requirement.
It is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus
and potassium, that are necessary for basic plant
It contains organic matter that improve the
structure of soil.
Classification of Soil:
According to its formation/location, soil can be
divided into two main groups:
Residual or Sedimentary Soil
These are the soils which are formed in their
original position (formed in situ) by the breaking
up of parent rocks. These are found in Peninsular
Transported Soil
These are transported by various agents of erosion
and consist of sediments carried and deposited by
rivers and winds.
Soil Profile:
Topsoil is the most important layer of the soil since
it contains humus. It takes years to form topsoil.
Subsoil is the next layer below, consisting of parent
materials which are further reduced to form soil. It
also contains moisture, and mineral constituents but
no humus. Below this layer is the solid rock
These are formed by the sediments brought down by
rivers. They are also rich in chemical ingredients. The
rivers deposit very fine particles of soil called alluvium
in their planes during the course of their long journey.
Alluvial soil is also called riverine soil because it is
mainly found in the river basins. It is a mixture of sand,
clay and silt, called loam. These have been deposited by
three important river systems the Indus, the Ganga
and the Brahmaputra. These soils are also found in the
coastal plains and deltas of Mahanadi, Godavari,
Krishna and Kaveri.
On the basis of its age, alluvial soils is of two types
bhangar and khadar.
Bhangar Khadar
Older alluvium soils, Younger alluvium
occupy largest part of
northern plains
It has higher concentration It has less concentration
of kankar nodules. of kankar nodules.
It is comparatively less It is more fertile as it is
fertile. Crops can be deposited every year
grown using manure. during the monsoon
They are found 30m They are formed and in
above MSL in river deltas and the lower bed
terraces. of plains.

Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Coastal
strip of peninsular India
Inland Alluvium: These soils are found on the
plains of the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra
Deltaic Alluvium: Found in the deltas of Ganga-
Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Godavari and Kaveri
Coastal Alluvium: It is of tidal origin. It is found
in the coastal strips of Peninsular India. It is also
found in the plains of Gujarat.
1. Found to a depth of 500m
2. Yellow in colour
3. Rich in potash, humus and lime
4. Deficient in nitrogen, tends to be phosphoric
5. Varies greatly in texture from coarse to fine
6. In the Deccan coastal strip, the soil is non-porous,
gets darker as the rivers flow over the black regur
soil and some of which they carry away.
Crops Grown: Suitable for the growth of a large
variety of kharif and rabi crops such as cereals,
cotton, oilseeds and sugar cane.
It is of volcanic origin lava soil formed due to
disintegration of basalt. It is also called black cotton
soil because cotton thrives well on it. Black soil has
been formed in situ, i.e. formed in the area where it
has been formed.
Distribution: Occurs mainly in the Deccan trap
comprising the greater part of Gujarat and
Maharashtra and also parts of Madhya Pradesh, Tamil
Nadu, Andhra Pradesh.
1. Deep, fine-grained and varying in colour from
black to chestnut brown.
2. Rich in iron, potash, lime, calcium, alumina,
magnesium, humus, carbonates
3. Moisture-retentive and very sticky when wet
4. When dry, hardens and forms deep cracks
Crops Grown: Cotton, Sugarcane, Jowar, Fruits and
Red Soil
Red soil formed by weathering of crystalline and
metamorphic rocks has a mixture of clay and sand.
Distribution: Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka, Odisha
1. Red in colour because of its high iron oxide
content, colour varies from chocolate brown to
2. Deficient in nitrogen, lime, phosphoric acid and
humus. When
3. Rich in potash
4. Porous, friable but not retentive of moisture
Crops Grown: Wheat, rice, millets, cotton,
sugarcane, pulses
Laterite Soil
Laterite soil is formed by leaching of lateritic rocks
under high temperature and heavy rainfall with
alternating dry and wet periods. Leaching of lime and
silica leaves a poor soil which is unsuitable for
cultivation. It is often used for building purposes.
Distribution: Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West
Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka.
1.Red in colour with a high content of iron
2.Poor in nitrogen and lime, rich in iron
3.Coarse in texture
4.Soft and friable
5.High content of acidity and inability to retain
Crops Grown: The soil is highly acidic and has
a poor moisture retaining capacity. Cashew and
Tapioca grow well on it. It is unsuitable for
growing any other cereal or pulses.
Need for soil conservation
Soil forms very slowly, and is destroyed easily, hence
must be conserved if it is to continue to support life.
The removal of topsoil by different agents of
weathering is called soil erosion.
Types of Soil Erosion
1. Soil Erosion By Running Water
i. Sheet Erosion
ii. When there is torrential downpour in hilly
iii. Gully Erosion
2. Soil Erosion By Wind
3. The Human Factor