UPSC Notes for Indian Geography [NCERT] – Major Soil Types in India:

Geography of India - Soil types

Soil – Introduction:

Soil is the mixture of rock debris and organic materials which develop on the earth’s surface and which can support the growth of plants. The various agents of gradation and weathering acts on the parent rock to produce a thin layer of Soil.  The major factors affecting the formation of Soil are:

  1. Relief (Relief means the Topography of the Area)
  2. Parent Material
  3. Climate of the place
  4. Vegetation and other life-forms
  5. TIME (major factor)


Soil Profile:

Soil Profile


Soil is arranged in various layers from the surface to earth’s crust. This arrangement of Soil Layers is called as the Soil Profile. The layers of Soil are called as Horizons. There are 3 major Soil Horizons:

  • Horizon A – It is the Topmost zone. Organic material is very well mixed with the mineral matter, water and nutrients.
  • Horizon B – It is the middle layer and is the transitional layer between Horizon A and Horizon C. It contains the matter derived from layer below as well as the layer above.
  • Horizon C –  This layer has loose parent material. This layer forms the first step in the formation of Soil.
  • Below these layers is the Rock known as BEDROCK or Parent Rock.


Major Soil Types  in India:

Major soil types in India - Soil Profile. Indian Geography notes for Civil Services



Following Soil Types are present in India.

Soil Types


Alluvial Soil:

  • covers largest area (around 40%) in India.
  • Highly Fertile soil.
  • Rich in Organic matter and Potash but deficient in Phosphorous.
  • Color – Light gray to Ash gray.
  • Areas where Present- Northern Plains and River Valleys, some parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, Eastern coast deltas.
  • It contains calcareous formations known as Kankars.
  • Two different types of alluvial soils: Khadar and Bhangar.
  • Khadar is the new alluvium which is deposited by the floods annually.
  • Bhangar is the old alluvium which is present away from flood plains.

Red and Yellow Soil:

  • covers second largest area (around 18.5%) in India.
  • present in area of low rainfall in eastern and southern Deccan Plateau.
  • Areas where Present – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerela, Karnataka, Southern Maharshtra, Chhatisgarh, Kharkhand, Odisha and some parts of U.P
  • Develops on igneous rocks.
  • Soil is Red in color due to high content of iron in the rocks.
  • It appears in Yellow color when hydrated.
  • Poor in nitrogen, humus and phosphorous.



Black Soil:

  • Also known as Regur or Black Cotton Soil.
  • parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, M.P, Maharshtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Also present in Godavari and Krishna deltas.
  • rich in Iron, Alumina, magnesia and lime.
  • poor in nitrogen and phosphorous.
  • impermeable nature. It does not absorb water easily.
  • It swells when wet and shrinks when dried. So,  a kind of Self-Ploughing occurs in this soil.
  • Color- deep Black to Gray.

Laterite Soil:

  • Present in the areas with High Rainfall and High Temperature.
  • Areas where found – Tamilnadu, Kerela, Karnataka, M.P. Hilly areas of Odisha and Assam.
  • Rich in Iron oxide and aluminum compounds.
  • Poor in Organic matter.
  • Suitable for crops like Cashew nut.
  • Leaching of Lima and Silica occurs due to high rainfall.

Arid Soil:

  • Characteristic soil of Western Rajasthan.
  • Color – Red to Brown.
  • Sandy in  structure and Saline in nature.
  • Kankar layer is present which prevents infiltration of water.
  • Found in Dry areas.
  • Lack moisture and Humus.

Saline Soils:

  • Generally found in Arid , semi-Arid or waterlogged and Swampy areas.
  • contains large proportion of Sodium, Magnesium and potassium. Hence It is infertile.
  • Found in western Gujarat, deltas of eastern coast, and in Sunderbans areas of West Bengal.
  • Excessive Irrigation also causes Soil to become Saline.
  • Gypsum is added to solve the problem of salinity.

Peaty Soils:

  • Found in High Rainfall and High Humidity.
  • Rich in Organic Matter. about 40 to 50% is the organic matter.
  • Peaty soils are heavy in nature and black in color.
  • found in coastal parts of Tamil Nadu, Odisha, West Bengal, Norther parts of Bihar and southern Uttaranchal.

Forest Soils:

  • Found in forests and snow-bound areas of Himalayas.
  • In lower valleys, it is fertile.
  • In Himalayas, they are acidic and have low Organic matter.


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Geography of India - Soil types

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