Soils of India: Types, Characteristics & Top MCQs

This set contains All details like Types, characteristics and MCQs on soils of India. Check these Geography questions to check and enhance your level of preparation for competitive exams

What is soil?

Soil can be defined as a mixture of small rock particles/debris and organic materials/ humus which develop on the earth’s surface and support the growth of plants.

It is the topmost layer of the continental crust having weathered particles of rocks.

The formation of soil is known as pedogenesis and it is influenced by a lot of factors. They are;

  1. Parent Material
  2. Relief/Topography
  3. Climate
  4. Natural Vegetation & Biological factors
  5. Time

Classification of soils of India

In India, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has classified soils into 8 categories.

  1. Alluvial Soil
  2. Black Cotton Soil
  3. Red Soil
  4. Laterite Soil
  5. Mountainous or Forest Soils
  6. Arid or Desert Soil
  7. Saline and Alkaline Soil
  8. Peaty, and Marshy Soil/Bog Soil

1. Alluvial Soils

These soils are formed mainly due to silt deposited by the rivers like Indus, Ganga, Brahmaputra and their tributaries. They are also found in deltaic regions formed by Mahanadi, the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Cauvery.

Their parent material are the rocks of Himalayan origin.

They are the largest soil group covering about 15 lakh sq km or about 46 percent of the total land area of India.

They support more than 40% of India’s population.

Features of Alluvial Soils

The Characteristics of Alluvial Soils are as under:

  1. They are of recent origin and are therefore immature and have weak profiles.
  2. They are depositional soils – transported and deposited by rivers, streams, etc.
  3. They vary from loamy to sandy-loam in drier regions and clayey loam in deltaic regions.
  4. Alluvial soils are the most fertile soils.
  5. The soil is porous because of its loamy (equal proportion of sand and clay) nature.
  6. These soils are constantly replenished by the recurrent floods.
  7. Color: Light Grey to Ash Grey.
  8. Texture: Sandy to silty loam or clay.

Chemical composition of Alluvial Soils

  1. The proportion of nitrogen is generally low.
  2. The proportion of Potash, phosphoric acid, and alkalis are adequate.

It is due to this chemical composition that Alluvial soils are the most fertile soils.

2. Black Soils

Formation:-they are formed due to weathering of the basaltic (volcanic) rocks which were formed in the Deccan plateau due to volcanic eruption in the Cretaceous period.

They are found in the regions of high temperature and low rainfall, which is typical of Peninsular regions.

Extent: 16% of India’s area.

Colour: Their colour is black due to the presence of titani-ferrous compounds originally present in their parent material.

Characteristics of Black Soil

The characteristics of Black soil are;

  1. Black soil is highly argillaceous and consist of more than 60% clay.
  2. It has high moisture retention capability.
  3. It swells and becomes sticky when wet and develops cracks when dry.
  4. Due to development of cracks, it is also called self ploughing soil. The cracks permits oxygenation of the soil to sufficient depths and the soil has extraordinary fertility.
  5. It is also called regur soil and black cotton soil, and it is very suitable for cultivation of cotton.

Chemical composition of black soil

  1. Deficient in phosphates, nitrogen, and humus.
  2. Rich in iron and lime.

3. Red Soils

It occupies the second largest area of the country and it has developed on Archean Granite.

Extent: 18.5% of India’s land area.

Colour: its colour is red due to the presence of ferric oxides.

Texture: Sandy to clay and loamy.

Chemical Composition: Rich in iron and potash but deficient in phosphate, lime, magnesia, humus and nitrogen.

Once it is irrigated and added with humus, it gives a high yield because the mineral base is rich.

This soil is also known as the omnibus group.

4. Laterite Soil

This soil is found in those regions where;

  1. laterite rocks are found (Laterites are rich in iron and aluminium content).
  2. Alternating dry and wet periods occur.

Characteristics of laterite soil

Laterite soil is Brown in colour.

Chemical composition: they are composed essentially of a mixture of hydrated oxides of aluminium and iron.

Laterite soil is rich in iron and aluminium but poor in Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potash, Lime, and Magnesia.

Its humus and water-retaining capacities are moderate.

It is suitable for crops like groundnut, cashew nut, etc.

5. Forest soil/ Mountain Soil

It is found on mountains with steeper slopes, high relief.

It has very shallow profile and horizons are poorly developed.

It is prone to soil erosion.

Mountain soil is rich in organic content, but other nutrients are deficient.

6. Desert Soil

Distribution: This soil is found in arid and semi-arid areas like Rajasthan, West of the Aravallis, Northern Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kachchh, Western parts of Haryana, and southern part of Punjab.

Composition: It lacks Nitrogen and humus, and is rich in Lime and bases.

Moisture content is also low, and it is sandy in nature.

If irrigated, it has good agricultural potential. It is suitable for crops like Bajra, pulses, fodder, and guar.

7. Saline and Alkaline soils

This soil is infertile and has huge amounts of common salt (NaCl). However, it is suitable for leguminous crops.

It is also known as Usar, Kallar, Rakar, Thur, Reh and Chopan.

It is distributed over Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra.

It is found naturally in the dried up lakes of Rajasthan and Gujrat. It is also formed through man-made activities like faulty agricultural practices, and such saline soil is found in UP and Punjab.

Saline soils do not contain any micro organisms and therefore lack humus also. Moisture is also absent in such soils.

8. Peaty and Marshy Soil

It is found in marshy areas where drainage facilities are absent.

It is also called Bog soil and has high content of organic matter and moisture. However it is defecient in Potash and phosphates, and also lacks organic activity.

It is distributed over the delta region of India and along backwaters of Kerala.

This soil is suitable for Jute, rice, spices, rubber and mangrove cultivation.

Features of Indian Soils

(1) Indian soils are old and mature. The age of soils increases as we move from Northern plains to peninsular plateau.

(2) Some soils like Alluvial soils and Black soils are fertile, and the others are in general either not fertile or poorly fertile.

(3) Indian soils have been used for cultivation for last hundreds of years and have therefore lost much of their fertility.

(4) Soil content is very high and thick in plains and valleys and at the rest of the places, it is very poor and thin.

Indian geography Quiz On Soils Of India

Check these Geography of India Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Answers on Soils of India for SSC, PCS, UPSC, IAS, NTSE, CLAT, Railways, NDA, CDS, Judiciary and other examinations of India.

Formation of soil is known as?

  1. pedogenesis
  2. soilogenesis
  3. humogenesis
  4. gametogenesis


According to ancient classification, soils in India were divided into:

  1. Urvara and Usara
  2. Urvara and Udara
  3. Usara and Udara
  4. Usara and Yugara

Urvara and Usara

Which of the following is true about the Alluvial soil?

  1. It is the most fertile of all the soils.
  2. It is the 2nd most widespread soil in India.
  3. It is mainly formed by debris and silt brought down by the rivers.
  1. all of them
  2. only 1 and 2
  3. only 1 and 3
  4. only 2 and 3

only 1 and 3

Which one is true?

  1. Alluvial soils are defecient in Potash and humus.
  2. Black soils have high water retaining capacity.
  1. both of them
  2. none of them
  3. only 1
  4. only 2

only 2

Which soils are also known as Omnibus group?

  1. Alluvial soils
  2. red soils
  3. black soils
  4. desert soils

red soils

Which of the following is/are true about red soils?

  1. They have developed on Archaean granite.
  2. They are red because of the presence of lead oxides.
  3. They are the most widespread soils in India.
  1. only 1
  2. only 2
  3. only 3
  4. all of them

only 1

Which soils are also known as Regur soils.

  1. black soils
  2. red soils
  3. alluvial soils
  4. laterite soils

black soils

Which of the following is true about Black soils?

  1. they are also called self ploughing soils.
  2. they have high water retaining capacity.
  3. they have developed on Marine sediments.
  1. all of them
  2. only 1 and 2
  3. only 2 and 3
  4. only 1 and 3

only 1 and 2

The soil best known for cotton cultivation is?

  1. black soils
  2. Alluvial soils
  3. red soils
  4. laterite soils

black soils

Which of the following is/are true about black soils?

  1. they are internationally called as chernozems.
  2. They have developed from the rocks of cretaceous lava.
  1. both of them
  2. none of them
  3. only 1
  4. only 2

both of them

The soil that has derived its name from bricks is?

  1. Alluvial soils
  2. black soils
  3. laterite soils
  4. mountain soils

laterite soils

Which of the following is true about laterite soils?

  1. they are formed by leaching away of siliceous matter of the rocks.
  2. they are formed in the regions having continous wet season.
  1. both of them
  2. none of them
  3. only 1
  4. only 2

only 1

What is the nature of Loamy Podzols?

  1. they are acidic
  2. they are basic
  3. they are neutral
  4. none

they are acidic

Which of the following is a distinct feature of peninsular plateau?

  1. Black soils
  2. Red soils
  3. Alluvial soils
  4. Laterite soils

Black soils

Which of the following is true about saline soils?

  1. they have very high water bearing capacity.
  2. these soils can be reclaimed by applying gypsum or lime.
  1. both of them
  2. none of them
  3. only 1
  4. only 2

only 2

Which of the following soils is known for saffron cultivation in India?

  1. Alluvial soil
  2. mountain soils
  3. karewa soils
  4. laterite soils

karewa soils

Which soil is also known as Usara?

  1. saline soil
  2. desert soil
  3. peaty soil
  4. mountain soil

saline soil

These were some important MCQs on soils of India for competitive exams. We are sure that these will be very useful for you and hope that you will share them with your friends.

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