Soils

Soil is the most productive and renewable layer of the earth. Soil is the naturally occurring, unconsolidated covering of broken rock particles and decaying organic matter on the surface of the earth.

It is a thin layer of the crust of the earth, which serves as a natural medium for the growth of plants and supports different types of living organisms. Almost all the ancient civilisations had developed near rich fertile soils of river valleys. Despite technological advancement and industrialisation, most of the world’s population still lives in areas of rich fertile soil, which helps to grow food.

Soil is formed in millions of years. Various agents of weathering and gradation produce a thin layer of soil. The major factors affecting the formation of soil are relief, parent material, climate, vegetation and other forms of life, and time. Soil possess distinctive horizontal layers that differ in physical and chemical composition, or organic content or, structure.

Soil can be classified on the basis of its colour, structure and texture. As per the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Taxonomy, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has classified the Indian soils on the basis of their nature and character.

On the basis of the genesis, colour, composition and location, the soils of India have been classified into eight types. These are: Alluvial soils Black soils Red and yellow soils Laterite soils Arid soils Forest soils Peaty soils, and Saline soils The removal of soil by wind and water is called soil erosion. Accelerated soil erosion affects both, the agricultural areas and the natural environment. It also affects our national productivity. So, it is imperative to initiate immediate steps to reclaim and conserve soil.

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