Soil Types in India

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : May 23, 2022, 11:47

Soil anywhere on the planet's surface is essential for the survival and maintenance of ecological balance. Different Soil Types in India support different kinds of organisms in various geographies.

Soil is the end product of rock debris accumulated through the years by natural processes like gradation and weathering. Soil Types in India are composed of various rock debris, organic matter, climatic conditions, human activities etc.

The study of soil is referred to as Pedology.

Soil Types in India - Overview

ICAR, or the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, provides the modern classification of Soil Types in India.

Every Soil type in India can extend up to three layers -

  • Topsoil: Is enriched with nutrients and facilitates plant growth
  • Subsoil: Is the middle layer and is richer in minerals like hummus
  • Weather and decomposed rocks: Is the foremost layer of soil formation, mainly consisting of parent material

In ancient times, India's classification of soil types was based on fertility -

  • If the soil type was sterile or not fertile, it was called Usara.
  • If the soil type was fertile, it was called Uvara.

According to geographical location, Soil Types in India are classified as -

  • Peninsular soil: This type of soil is also known as sedentary soil. This type of soil is carried and deposited repeatedly due to natural courses.
  • Extra peninsular soil: Also known as azonal soil, is heavier and on the deeper layers due to wind and water movement.
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Classification of Soil Types in India

Based on scientific work, this classification of Soil Types in India is based on parameters such as time, topography, source of origin, natural factors, climatic conditions and biological factors. It is widely accepted throughout the world.

Soil Type




Alluvial Soil

- Widely found in north India, it constitutes 43% of India's surface

- Highly fertile

- Clay-like texture

- Grey

- Potash rich, phosphorus deprived

- Narmada Tapi Plain

- Eastern coastal plains of India

- Deltas of rivers Mahanadi, Godavari river, Krishna river and Kaveri

Arid or Desert Soil

- Found in semi to fully arid conditions

- Transported by wind and lacks moisture

- Poor in nitrate

- Hight salt content

- Prevents water infiltration

- Sandy in texture

- Colour can vary -from red to brown

- Desert regions of India covering Western India

- Western Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab and extends up to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat

Black Soil or Regur Soil

- Mature soil with water retaining and self-ploughing capacity

- When wet, it swells up. When dry, it shrinks, forming cracks on the surface

- Best suited for cotton cultivation

- Clay-like texture

- Black

- Rich in iron, calcium etc.; Poor in nitrogen, phosphorous etc.

- Deccan Region

- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh on the Deccan lava plateau and the Malwa Plateau

Laterite Soil

- Found during monsoons

- Cover 3.7% of the country

- Works well with fertilisers; else are lowly fertile

- Rich in iron oxide and potash

- Lack nitrogen, calcium etc

- Dries when exposed to air and used to form bricks

- Madhya Pradesh

- Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu

- the Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats (Rajamahal Hills, Vindhyas, Satpuras, and Malwa Plateau)

Mountain/Forest Soil

- Grown in hilly regions

- Acidic Soil due to less humus

- Can be silty or coarse-grained depending upon elevation

- Northern India, like Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East India

Peaty Soil

- Grown in areas with high rainfall

- Rich in humus

- Suitable for vegetation

- Southern Uttarakhand, Odisha, Tamil Nadu

Red Soil

- Widely found in low rainfall areas

- It constitutes 18.3% of Indian soil

- Porous structure

- Sandy texture

- Red due to ferric oxide or high presence of iron

- Potash, phosphorus, and nitrogen deprived

- Eastern India

- Tamil Nadu

- Parts of Karnataka, southeastern Maharashtra, eastern Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Chota Nagpur (Jharkhand), south Bihar, West Bengal (Birbhum and Bankura)

Saline/Alkaline Soil

- Found in dry climate areas

- Usually infertile due to high salt content

- Sandy in texture

- Low in calcium and nitrogen

- West Bengal's Sundarban area, East Coast deltas, Western Gujarat

☛ Also Read: Current Affairs Today

Soil formation and conservation are essential to bringing ecological balance. However, due to increased human activities and technological advances, there has been an erosion of the topsoil, also known as soil erosion of different Soil Types in India.

Soil erosion is harmful as it prevents soil from holding the essential nutrients and roots of trees and plants, which leads to a loss of natural cover and can also cause natural disasters.

Loss of soil in large quantities causes gullies or ravens, also known as badland topography, and the Chambal Valley in Madhya Pradesh is a prime example of the same. Tree plantation, rainwater harvesting, mixed-crop and terrace farming can be some of the useful ways to conserve soil.

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FAQs on Soil Types in India

Q1. Who classifies the Soil Types in India?

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research provides the scientific classification of the Soil Types in India.

Q2. List the factors on which the Soil Types in India are categorised.

India's soil types are categorised based on natural vegetation, biological factors, climatic conditions, topography, parent material, etc.

Q3. What does the erosion of Soil Types in India mean?

The erosion of Soil Types in India refers to the erosion of the topsoil of the soil layers due to the rising population, civilisation, and industrialisation.

Q4. Which type of soil constitutes the largest part of India?

Commonly found in India's Northern Plains and valleys, the Alluvial soil constitutes the largest part of the Indian ground, 43%. This is the most popular out of all the Soil Types in India.