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Indian Space Research Organization
Soil is the uppermost layer of Earth’s crust.
Soil is the medium in which plants grow and thus it supports
the lives on earth.
The Study of Soil (Pedology)
How soils are formed?
Soils are formed due to the weathering of rocks.
WHAT IS SOIL?
Soil is the thin layer of loose mixture of small rock particles
and rotting organic matter that covers much of the world’s
Soil formation is a very long process. It begins with the weathering of
rocks into small fragments. The rocks are also worn away by the
agents of erosion like river, wind, sea and glacier. The sediments and
tiny rock particles are then deposited by the agents of erosion. The
accumulation of such sediments over the ages forms soil. Eventually,
the plants that grow on the soil, shed their leaves which decay to form
the topmost layer of soil called 'humus'.
India is primarily an agricultural country. The success of agriculture
depends upon the fertility of soils. The soils of India are classified
into the following main groups depending upon the rock cover and
The most two important factors that determine the types of soil found
in India are : i. The climate ii. The topography
•Soil is made up of mineral
•Water is held between the
grains in the pore spaces.
•25% of the soil is air.
Oxygen is essential
•Organic matter is both
coarse and fine.
•Bacteria- A thimble of soil
can contain 2 billion
bacteria, 30 million fungi
fragments and 100,000
single cell plants and
Five factors that affect soil formation
A. Parent Material – type of rock that soil is
B. Climate – temperature & moisture
C. Living organisms – organisms (bugs &
worms) and plants in the soil.
D. Topography – hills and valleys
E. Time or weathering – age of the soil and
breaks down rocks to create soil.
It can be caused by weather,
water, or living things
is the movement of sediment and
rock to new places.
the topsoil a
water to the
In a mature soil profile,
there are three distinct
layers(horizons) of the
soil. The undisturbed rock
below the soil is called the
The Ao-horizon consists of
the highly decayed organic
material referred to as the
peat and humus. Humus
gives soil horizon A a rich
brown color. We see no
such brown layer in the
In the A horizon,
carries minerals as
it goes. This is
minerals down into
the lower soil
The B-Horizon is called the
This horizon is where the
leached minerals from
horizon A end up.
These leached minerals may
color the subsoil. For
example, the presence of iron
my color the subsoil red.
Horizon B-Zone of Accumulation of leached minerals
The C-horizon is called the zone of
weathered bedrock. When you have a
residual soil, one formed over the
original bedrock, the C-horizon
resembles the bedrock, but it is
In a residual soil, the bedrock is below
Remember that the Coastal Plain does
not have bedrock under the soil profile,
but it has layers of sand, clay and gravel.
That is because of the sea level changes
over time and the rivers that flowed over
Soils Perform Several Vital Functions
Sustaining plant and
animal life below and
above the surface
partitioning water and
Storing and cycling
Providing support to
There are five components of soil:
Can you match each type of soil to its picture?
Sand is tiny grains of worn down rock. It
doesn’t hold water or have many nutrients.
Silt is very small, broken pieces of rock. It is
larger than clay, but smaller than sand. It
is powdery when dry.
Clay holds water well. It is sticky and can
be shaped when it is wet. But, it is very
hard when dry.
Clay has many nutrients.
Clay is used for adobe or brick houses.
Humus is made of leaves, twigs, small
animals, or other decayed substances.
Humus adds many nutrients to the soil.
Humus is in the topsoil.
Physical Features of soil
Soils have many features that are used to
recognize the difference between them.
A. Texture – coarseness of fineness of soil
B. Structure – the way in which soil
particles are held together
C. Depth of horizons – depth of each soil
D. Color – darkness or lightness of soil
The major soil types found in India
Black soils are mainly found over the Deccan lava tract (Deccan Trap)
including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra
Pradesh. These soils are found in river valley of Narmada, Tapi,
Godavari and Krishna. These soils have been formed due to the
weathering of the lava rocks. This is also known as the Regur soil and
Cotton soil. These soils are rich in lime. iron, magnesia and alumina
but lack in the phosphorus, nitrogen and organic matter.
These soils are found in Chhotanagpur plateau, Telangana, Nilgiris,
Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and periphery areas of
Deccan Plateau. These soils have been formed due to decomposition
fo underlying igneous rocks under heavy rainfall. These are suitable
for the cultivation of millets, pulses. Lin-seed, tobacco etc. These soils
are poor in Lime, Nitrogen and humus.
These soils are formed under conditions of high temperature and heavy rainfall
with alternate wet and dry periods. Thus its formation takes place strictly under
Residual soils formed by leaching in areas of heavy rain.
Leaching is a process in which the nutrients get percolated down below the soil
due to heavy rainfall; thus leaving the top soil in Fertile. Also called DESILICATION.
.These soils are found in the north- eastern state of Meghalaya in India.
It is red due to the presence of iron oxide which is formed by leaching. The
soluble plant foods like potash are removed from the top soil leaving alumina and
It covers about 40 percent of land area of the country. They are depositional soils,
transported and deposited by rivers and streams. Through a narrow corridor in
Rajasthan, they extend into the plains of Gujarath. These soils are formed by the
deposition of fine sediments and silt by the rivers along their banks. In India,
alluvial soils are mostly found in the Great Northern Plains, the coastal plains and
Types (a)Young Khadar soils: these are newer alluvium of sandy, pale brown
(b) Old Bhangar soils: these consist of older alluvium
These soils cover 2 lakh sq. km areas in dry areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab,
and Haryana. These coarse soils are suitable for cultivation of jowar, bajara, cotton
ARID AND DESERT SOILS
Large part of arid and semi-arid region of Rajasthan and adjoining areas of Punjab
Desert soils are found in arid regions which receive very little rainfall.
Saline and Alkaline Soils: These soils are found in the dry and marshy areas.
These are locally known as Bhur, Rehu, Kallar. The accumulation of salts makes
these soils infertile.
Mountain soils are found in, as the name suggests, in mountainous regions. They
are quite prone to soil erosion as a result of the top soil getting washed away due
to the steep slopes of the mountains after a period of heavy rainfall.
These soils are mostly thin and infertile. These include peat, meadow and forest
Found in continuously water-logged areas, or marshy areas especially in the
coastal regions near the sea or near the deltas.
• Made by NATURE
• Cannot be replaced
• Must be conserved (saved)!
Ways to Conserve Soil
Plant gardens to grow crops
• What else can you do to conserve soil?