Types of Soil: with features and examples | Learning concepts
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Concept: Types of Soil

Depending on the composition and size of particles, the soil is classified into the following types:

1. Sandy soil:

  • Sandy soil mainly comprises sand.
  • The amounts of silt and clay are comparatively low.
  • The air space among the particles of sandy soil is more, making it porous.
  • It has the lowest water-holding capacity.
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2. Clayey soil:

  • 25% of clayey soil comprises clay particles.
  • It has a high density and is compact due to the nature of clay particles.
  • The clay particles closely stick together. Hence, this soil is less porous and filled with less air.
  • The water-holding capacity of this soil is high.
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3. Silt:

  • Silt is smooth, porous and has good water-holding capacity because of the silt particles.
  • This soil is generally found near the areas flooded by rivers.
  • Silt is rich in nutrients required for crop production.

4. Loamy soil:

  • Loamy soil comprises sand, silt and a small amount of clay.
  • The soil is porous and provides enough space to the plant roots for gaseous exchange.
  • It has a considerable amount of organic matter humus, making it highly fertile and suitable for agriculture.
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Apart from the classification based on the major constituents, soils can also be differentiated based on the mineral content and the topographic area they are found in.
Some of the examples of such soils are given below—

1. Red soil:

  • This soil is rich in iron oxide, giving it the characteristic red colour.
  • It comprises a large amount of clay and hence, is less porous with a high water-holding capacity.
  • Found in the states of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh.

2. Laterite soil:

  • This soil is considered to be the end product of tropical weathering.
  • It is generally formed by leaching and hence, is less fertile.
  • Laterite soil contains less clay and more gravel and stone particles.
  • This soil is generally found in areas with high temperatures and low rainfall.

3. Mountain soil:

  • This soil is found in the Himalayan regions and some parts of the Western and Eastern Ghats.
  • This type of soil is rich in humus and is very fertile.

4. Desert soil:

  • This soil is found in desert areas.
  • Very little humus content is found in desert/arid soil.
  • It is highly porous, which implies low water-holding capacity.
  • It is rich in salts like calcium carbonate.
  • The soil can be used for agriculture if proper irrigation facilities are available as it would require frequent irrigation for crop yield.

5. Alluvial soil:

  • Alluvial soil gets deposited due to the flow of surface water.
  • This type of soil is mainly found near river beds, flood plains and water streams.
  • This soil is light and porous, allowing the plant roots to breathe properly.
  • It is rich in humus and nutrients like potash and lime with a good water-holding capacity, making it perfect for the cultivation of crops.

6. Black soil:

  • It is also called regur.
  • Black soil is rich in minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium.
  • This soil has a high water-holding capacity.
  • This soil develops cracks like clayey soil when dry, which helps in the aeration of the soil.

Distribution of soil in India:

The map below shows the major type of soils and their distribution in our country.


Crops growing in different types of soil:

Depending on the nature and constituents of soils, different types of crops grow in different types of soils.

S. no. Type of Soil Crops
a. Loamy Soil Wheat, sugarcane, pulses, oilseeds, cotton, jute
b. Sandy Soil Potato, pepper, groundnut, corn
c. Clayey soil Rice, wheat, lentils, gram, pulses
d. Red soil Cotton, wheat, tobacco, potato, millets
e. Laterite soil Rice, wheat, tea, coconut, cashews
f. Mountain soil Rice, tea, corn, beans, coffee
g. Desert soil Bajra, wheat, cherry, watermelon, onion, garlic
h. Alluvial soil Rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, potato, jute

New Words:

Aeration: Adding air to something.

Topographic: Related to the physical features of a particular region.

Irrigation: The practice of supplying water to the land and crops by means of proper water channels.

Leaching: The seeping down of minerals along with water from the top soil to the lower soil layers.

Did You Know?

  • Earthworms are called ‘farmer’s friends’ because they increase the soil's air and water content, thereby increasing its fertility.
  • The layers of soil make up a natural water filtration system. As the water seeps down the soil layers, the unwanted materials and chemicals get filtered and pure water accumulates in the water table below.
  • Every year, World Soil Day is celebrated on 5th December.
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