Types of Soils in India: Characteristics & Classification

By Naveen Singh|Updated : August 9th, 2022

Soil is an important topic asked in Geography. It is asked in various Defence Exams such as CDS, AFCAT, Air Force Group X & Y etc.

Here we will enlighten you about various soils in India, there formation and further give you a quiz to boost your exam preparation.

Types of Soil in India


  • India is an Agrarian country & Soil is its prime resource. It plays a vital role in the economy of India as our industries are mainly Agro-based.
  • About 65 to 70% of the total population of the country is depended on agriculture. 
  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) set up an All India Soil Committee in 1953 which distributed it into various types:

Generally, there are 8 types of soil found in India

  1. Alluvial Soil
  2. Regur or Black Soil
  3. Red Soil
  4. Laterite Soil
  5. Desert Soil
  6. Mountain Soil
  7. Saline and Alkaline soil
  8. Peaty & Marshy soil

Here is a map which shows the distribution of various soil in India:


1. Alluvial Soil

  • Deposition of materials by sea and river is called alluvium and the soil formed due to deposition of alluvium is called as alluvial soil.
  • This type of soil mainly found in the Indo-Ganga and Brahmaputra plain i.e. the whole northern plain and in some parts of the river basin in the south and some plateau region.
  • This soil is also found in the deltas of the Mahanadi, Godavari, Cauvery and Krishna.
  • Alluvial soil can be broadly categorised in two types i.e. New alluvial soil (Khadar) and old alluvial soil (Bhangar). Both the Khadar and Bhangar soils contain calcareous concretions (Kankars).
  • Old alluvial soils are found in slightly elevated areas far away from the river and are clayey and sticky.
  • The new alluvial soil is found in the floodplain of the river and is much fertile in comparison to the old alluvial soil.
  • Crops Grown: the Alluvial soil is suitable for the Rabi and Kharif crop like cereals, cotton, oilseeds and sugarcane.
  • These are the largest soil groups covering about 15 lakh sq km or about 46 per cent of the total area.

2. Regur or Black soil

  • The regur or black soils have developed extensively upon the Lava Plateaus of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh mainly Malwa and are formed due to volcanic activities.
  • These soils are very fertile and contain a high percentage of lime, iron and a moderate amount of potash.
  • The type of soil is especially suited for the cultivation of cotton and hence sometimes called ‘black cotton soil.’
    Crops Grown: Cotton, Jowar, Wheat, Linseed, Gram, Fruit and Vegetable.
  • The black soil is highly retentive of moisture.

3. Red Soil

  •  Red soils develop on granite and geneses rocks under low rainfall condition i.e. due to weathering of the metamorphic rocks.
  • These soils are red in colour due to the high concentration of Iron Oxide.
  • These soils are friable and medium fertile and found mainly in almost whole of Tamil Nadu, South-eastern Karnataka, North-eastern and South-eastern Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand the major parts of Orissa, and the Hills and Plateaus of North-east India.
  • These soils are deficient in Phosphoric acid, organic matter and nitrogenous material.
  • Crops Grown: Wheat, Rice, Millet's, Pulses.

4. Laterite Soil

  • Laterite is a kind of clayey rock or soil formed under high temperature and high rainfall and with alternate dry and wet period.
  • Laterite and lateritic soils are found in South Maharashtra, the Western Ghats in Kerala and Karnataka, at places in Odisha, small parts of Chottanagpur and in some parts of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and in western West Bengal (particularly in Birbhum district).
  • Crops Grown: Coffee, Cashew etc.
  • This type of soil is unsuitable for agriculture due to the high content of acidity and inability to retain moisture.

5. Desert soil

This type of soils found in Rajasthan, Haryana and the South Punjab, and are sandy.

  • In the absence of sufficient wash by rainwater, soils have become saline and rather unfit for cultivation.
  • In spite of that cultivation can be carried on with the help of modern irrigation.
  • Wheat, bajra, groundnut, etc. can be grown in this soil.
  • This type of soil is rich in Phosphates and Calcium but deficient in Nitrogen and humus.

6. Mountain Soil

  • Soil found in higher altitude on the mountain is called as Mountain soil.
  • The characteristics of this type of soil are changed according to the altitudes.
  • This type of soil is suitable for the cultivation of potatoes, fruits, tea coffee and spices and wheat.

7. Saline and Alkaline Soil

  • This type of soil is found western Gujarat, the delta of the eastern coast, Sunderbans area of West Bengal, Punjab & Haryana.
  • It is unfit for agriculture.
  • It contains sodium, potassium and magnesium and lacks Nitrogen & Calcium.

8. Peaty & Marshy Soil 

  • Peaty soils originate in humid regions as a result of the accumulation of large amounts of organic matter in the soils. 
  • These soils contain a considerable amount of soluble salts and 10-40 per cent of organic matter.
  • Soils belonging to this group are found in Kottayam and Alappuzha districts of Kerala where it is called Kari.

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Type of Soils based on the size of particles 

1. Sandy Soil

  • Particles are larger in size.
  • The particles cannot fit close together and hence there is enough space among them.
  • It is not fit for vegetation as it does not retain water.
  • However, millets can be grown on sandy soil.

2. Clayey Soil

  • Particles are very small in size.
  • Very little space among the particles.
  • Water does not drain quickly through clayey soil because of less space among particles.
  • So, clayey soil is not well aerated and retains more water.

3. Loamy Soil

  • Particles are smaller than sand and larger than clay.
  • Loamy soil is the mixture of sandy soil, clayey soil and silt.
  • Silt is the deposit in river beds.
  • The soil has the right water holding capacity and is well aerated.
  • It is considered the best soil for the growth of plants.


The Soil Profile is defined as a verticle section of soil and it starts from the layer where organic matter can be seen to the layer where bedrocks are found.

Layers of Soil 

1.O Layer

  • It is the outermost layer and this layer is not the part of the soil profile. This layer mainly consists of decomposed material i.e. dried leaves, fallen branches, surface organisms, etc.  
  • This layer is brown or black in colour.
  • Humus formation does not start here.

2.A Layer  : 

  • This is the most important layer because Humus formation starts here and it plays an important role in seed germination.
  • Many microorganisms like the earthworm, Fungi, Bacteria are found here.
  • This layer is most vulnerable to wind and water erosion.

3.E Layer :

  • This layer found below the O and E layer. It is lighter in colour and  also rich in nutrition that is lynched from the above layers

4.B Layer :

  • This layer is found below O, A, E layers and rich in silicate clay, iron, aluminium and carbonates.
  • It is also known as Illuviation zone because of the presence of minerals.

5.C Layer :

  • This layer mainly consists of broken bedrock and no organic material. It mainly composed of sediments and geological material.

6.R Layer :

  • This layer consists of rock bed and rock type found here is basalt, granite and limestone.byjusexamprep

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