Soil Types: Soil is a natural resource broadly defined as the loose top layer of earth made up of disintegrated rock, humus, inorganic and organic materials. Soil is usually formed when rocks break up into smaller pieces under the action of various natural forces like wind, water, gravity, the reaction of salts etc.
Conversely, soil hardens to form rocks, but this is a prolonged process. Various soil types are classified based on texture, proportions and different forms of organic and mineral materials. If you have questions like what is the process of soil formation and how many types of soil are found in India? We are here to cover it all for you. This article will learn about the types of soil in India and their applications. Read on to learn more about them.
Introduction to Soil Types
Soil is classified into 4 different types based on the size of the particles it contains.
The smallest soil particles are called clay. Slightly bigger particles are called silt, and large, coarse particles are called sand. Soil consisting of mostly sand, as in deserts, is called sandy soil, while soil made up of mostly clay is called clayey soil. Loam soil, consisting of silt, sand and clay particles, is considered the best for the growth of plants. This kind of soil is also usually rich in humus, which provides nutrients to plants.
Types of Soil: Determination of Soil
Collect a sample of sand from a construction site and a sample of clay from a potter. Take two more samples—one from a garden and another from the roadside.
Feel the samples between your thumb and forefinger. Then put a bit of each sample on your palm, add a few drops of water and feel it again. Sand feels coarse and gritty, while clay feels smooth and a bit sticky. By the way, when wet clay dries, it becomes very hard. Another thing about wet clay is that you can mould it. That is why potters use it. Of course, they treat it with various things like dung to improve the texture. Try rolling a bit of the moist clay on your palm or making a ribbon out of it by pressing it between your thumb and forefinger. Can you do this with the other samples? What does this tell you about their compositions?
You can also put a bit of each sample into different jars, pour water into the jars and shake up the mixtures. Let the jars stand for a while. Sand will settle fast at the bottom of the jar. Clay will remain suspended for a long time. And two or more layers will form in the mixed samples. If there is any humus in the soil, it will float on top.
There are mainly three basic types of soils. These are sandy soil, clayey soil and loam soil. The differences in the compositions of these three types of soil and their properties are discussed below:
Sandy soil is mostly made up of sand (having large particles with large spaces). It has hardly any clay or silt in it. Sandy soil contains very little humus. Sandy soil is found in desert areas. Large particles with large spaces between them describe sandy soil. Sandy soil has the drawback of not being able to hold much water because water drains quickly through the large crevices between its particles. So, sandy soil dries out quickly, which is not good for plants.
However, sandy soil provides good aeration (air) to the plant roots and can be ploughed very easily. Sandy soil is light. It tends to blow away if left bare. Sandy soil is not as fertile as other soil types. Adding humus in the form of manure to sandy soil can increase its fertility. Humus improves sandy soil’s water-holding capacity while also providing essential plant nutrients. The dirt in sandy areas is not sticky. As a result, it cannot be used to construct pots (like matkas and surahis, etc.), bricks, toys and statues.
Clayey soil contains mainly clay (having very small particles with very small spaces). It has hardly any sand or silt in it. Clayey soil also contains very little humus. Due to its small and tightly packed particles, clayey soil has a high water-holding capacity. Clayey soil is heavier than sandy soil because it can hold more water. The smallness of particles of a clayey soil is also a disadvantage. This is because the water drains out very slowly through clayey soil leading to water-logging of soil and damaging the crop plants. Moreover, due to the smallness of its pores, clayey soil types cannot trap enough air for the roots of the plants. Clayey soil is compact and sticky, ploughing of clayey soil is quite difficult.
Clayey soil types are, however, rich in minerals which is good for the growth of plants. Clayey soil is more fertile than sandy soil. By adding sand and humus (manure) to clayey soil, it can become more fertile. Sand will help clayey soil drain better, while humus will supply the necessary plant nutrients. Clayey soil has a lot of stickiness. As a result of this clayey soil is used to make pots (like matkas and surahis, etc.), bricks, toys and statues. Clayey soil is the best soil for making pots, bricks, toys and statues.
Loam soil is a mixture of sand, clay, silt and humus in the right proportions. Loam soil is a mixture of large and small rock particles which impart the desired properties. For example, it has the right water-holding capacity for the growth of plants. Excess water can also be simply drained through it. Soils of this kind also have adequate air spaces between their particles to hold sufficient air needed by plant roots. Therefore, it can also be ploughed easily. It is also to be noted that it contains a sufficient amount of humus. So, loam soil has all the necessary nutrients for the growth of plants. Loam soil is the most fertile soil. Loam soil is the finest soil for growing crops. Loam soil is also known as ‘loamy soil’.
We have looked at the classification of soil types based on the relative proportions of rock particles of various sizes from the above discussion.
Differences Among Sandy, Clayey And Loam Soil Types
1. Main constituent
Large-sized sand particles
Smaller-sized clay particles
Clay, sand and silt present in the right proportions
2. Space between particles
3. Presence of air
Can hold sufficient air
4. Water-holding capacity
It cannot hold much water
Can hold much water
Right water-holding capacity
Cannot hold nutrients
Can hold nutrients
Can hold nutrients
Easy to plough
Difficult to plough
Easy to plough
Uses of Soil
Soil plays an important role in the survival of organisms found on the earth. Its uses are as follows:
Soil enables plants to grow. It provides all the nutrients required by plants to grow.
Soil is also very important as a habitat, i.e., a home for millions of soil organisms like insects, earthworms, bacteria, fungi, etc.
It provides anchorage to trees and vegetation.
Soil is also essential for the forests on the earth. We get many useful things from forests. Forests provide us with timber, and they are also the natural habitat of many plants and animals.
Soil is used for the agricultural production of crops that are necessary for human and animal food.
Soil is used in making pottery and bricks.
The microorganisms living in soil help in recycling nutrients from dead plants and animals.
Type of Soil in India and Crops
The soil types may vary at different places. They can be sandy, clayey or loamy. Also, the colour and texture of the soil are different in different places. Some soil types are brown, some are black, and some are of mixed colours.
The soil is affected by the climate of a place. The rainfall, wind and temperature at a place also affect the soil.
Depending upon the soil quality, climate of the area, availability of moisture in the soil and the soil texture, the land is identified for cultivating different kinds of crops. In brief, we identify them as:
1. Wheat and sugarcane crops are grown in loam soil with more clay. The region has average rainfall with irrigation facilities.
2. Maize and coarse crops are summer crops grown in almost all regions.
3. Millets (jowar and bajra) and sorghum crops are grown in sandy regions. They grow well in sandy and airy soils, maybe with scanty rains.
4. Fruits and vegetable crops are grown in humus-rich soils and under different climatic conditions. Apple and plum trees grow well in hills below the snow-covered peaks, mango in plains with clayey soil, banana in yellow-brown soil and so on.
5. Peanuts grow well in partly sandy soil.
6. Cotton grows well in black soil and sandy loam.
7. Jute and rice are cultivated in clayey soils, which retain a good amount of water. They grow well in waterlogged soil.
Which Soil Types are Best for Growing Cotton?
Because black soils are ideal for growing cotton, it is also known as black cotton soil. The soil should have an average temperature of \(82.4\) degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of \(8\) inches for optimal cotton seed germination.
In Which Soil Type Does Maize Grow Well?
Maize is a versatile crop that may be used for both food and fodder. It is a kharif crop that requires temperatures between \(21\) and \(27\) degrees Celsius and grows in old alluvial soil.
As discussed earlier, the topsoil is very fertile. Strong winds, river water or heavy rains may carry away the topsoil. The removal of topsoil by strong winds, flowing river water is called soil erosion. Soil erosion is more common in areas that are not covered by trees or grass and
are bare land. In the absence of any vegetation, the topsoil becomes loose and gets easily carried away.
Soil does not get eroded if it is covered by vegetation. The roots of the plants bind together the topsoil particles and prevent soil erosion.
Soil erosion is caused by overgrazing, deforestation, and excessive ploughing of the field or by rain.
Summary of Major Soil Types in India
Soil is one of the most important natural resources. It is a mixture of different types of rock particles and remains of dead plants and animals. Soil is found all around us, i.e., in gardens, school playgrounds, at the parks, at construction sites and in the fields.
In this article, we learned about different soil types like sandy soil, clayey soil, and loam soil, uses of soil, soil crops, soil erosion, and components of soil.
FAQs on Soil Types
Q.1. What are the different soil types? Ans: There are mainly three basic soil types. These are sandy soil, clayey soil and loam soil.
Q.2. What are the ten uses of soil? Ans: Soil plays an important role in the survival of organisms found on the earth. Its uses are as follows: -Soil enables plants to grow. It provides all the nutrients required by plants to grow. -Soil is also very important as a habitat, i.e., a home for millions of soil organisms like insects, earthworms, bacteria, fungi, etc. -It provides anchorage to trees and vegetation. -Soil is also essential for the forests on the earth. We get many useful things from forests. Forests provide us with timber, and they are also the natural habitat of many plants and animals. -Soil is used for the agricultural production of crops that are necessary for human and animal food. -The microorganisms living in soil help in recycling nutrients from dead plants and animals. -Soil is used to produce food (like grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, etc.). -Trees are grown in soil to obtain wood for building purposes (timber), burn as fuel (firewood), and make paper. -Cotton plants, which produce cotton clothing, are grown in soil. Mulberry trees are grown on the soil to raise silkworms, which give us silk for our garments. -Earthenware or pottery (such as matkas, surahis, etc.), crockery (cups and plates), toys and statues, are all made from soil.
Q.3. What is the soil classified as in chemistry? Ans: Soil is made up of two phases: a solid phase made up of minerals and organic matter (the soil matrix) and a porous phase that holds gases (the soil atmosphere) and water (the soil solution). Soil scientists can think of soils as a three-state system consisting of solids, liquids, and gases.
Q.4. What is soil chemistry an example of? Ans: Soil chemistry is a field of soil science that studies the chemical composition, characteristics, and reactivity of soils. Soil reactions and processes take place on many different geographical and temporal scales. The chemical reactions and processes involving these phases are the subject of soil chemistry. For example, the inorganic solid-phase is weathered by carbon dioxide in the air mixed with water. Plant development and water quality are both influenced by chemical interactions between soil particles and soil solution.
Q.5. Who is the father of soil chemistry? Ans: Edmund Ruffin is the father of soil chemistry.
Q.6. What are the six components of soil? Ans: Rock particles (of various sizes), minerals, humus (Organic matter), air, water, and living creatures are the six components that make up soil. Rock particles in soil come in a variety of sizes and chemical compositions. The rock particles in soil can be classified into four classes based on their sizes: clay, silt, sand, and gravel.
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