When it comes to soil, it is the surface material that is loose and covers most land. It generally offers the plant structural support used in agriculture and is also their source of nutrients and water.
Processes like leaching, microbial activity, and weathering combine to make a layer of distinctive soil types.
There are different types of soil like red soil, forests and mountain soil, alluvial soil, desert soil, black soil, saline and alkaline soil, laterite and lateritic soil, and peaty and marshy soil. Each type has particular weaknesses and specifications.
In this article, the chief focus is on differentiating black soil and alluvial soil.
Black Soil and Alluvial Soil
The difference between black soil and alluvial soil is their growing crops. For the cotton crop, black soil is best suited. The other black soil’s major crops consist of castor, wheat, linseed, sunflower, Virginia tobacco, and millets. On the other hand, alluvial soil is best suited for sugarcane, rice, cotton, maize, wheat, tobacco, jute, and oilseeds.
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Black soil generally consists of a high content of clay. Clay in this soil can shrink and swell considerably.
This is the reason black soil on drying leads to deep cracks. Even with less irrigation, the crops can be grown.
It has high buffering and also holds nutrients comparatively for a larger duration and larger amount.
With respect to other soils, alluvial soil has the highest productivity. It is present generally along rivers and during weathering of rocks carried by its streams.
It has very soft strata with the humus in nitrogen’s lowest proportion with phosphate and adequate amount.
|Parameters of Comparison||Black Soil||Alluvial Soil|
|Also called||Black cotton soil or regur soil||Riverine soil|
|Fertility||Low fertile (uplands)|
|Texture||Highly argillaceous||Both clayey and sandy|
|Formation||By weathering of igneous rocks as well as lava flow||By deposition of river|
|Color||Black||Varies from light grey to ash grey|
What is Black Soil?
Black soil is trapped lava’s derivatives and art spread mainly across interior Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra on the Malwa plateau and the Deccan lava plateau. Especially where there is basaltic rock as well as moderate rainfall.
Black soil’s iron-rich granular structure makes it resistant to water and wind erosion. It is also found on many peripheral tracts where basalts underlying has been shifted generally from their original location through the fluvial process.
The shifting has led to clastic content’s increased concentration.
For most of the black soil, the parent material is volcanic rocks. In the rainy season, strenuous effort is required for working on such soil as it gets very sticky due to the presence of a small proportion of iron or titaniferous magnetite and the parent’s rock black constituents make it black.
For centuries, black soil has been used for growing crop variety without adding manures or fertilization, with no or little evidence of exhaustion. When it comes to sugarcane and rice, they both are equally important where there is the availability of irrigation facilities.
What is Alluvial Soil?
Alluvial soil is soil which by surface water get deposited. They can be found along rivers, stream terraces, alluvial fans, in deltas and floodplains.
It offers many functions but the greatest is serving as the kidneys of earth. It removes nutrients and sediment flowing in the adjacent water.
Alluvial soil also helps to remove from rivers other contaminants and for downstream communities it improves water quality. Because flood periodically at the surface deposit new sediment and alluvial soil can have a look of unique layered.
Due to an alluvial soil’s recent origin, it has an immature and weak profile. Alluvial soil is mostly sand and it is uncommon to find in form of clayey soil.
Along the river terraces, the calcareous concretions and kankar beds are present in some of the region.
Due to recurrent floods, alluvial soils are constantly replenished. Texture and porosity offer good drainage as well as other conditions for agriculture which are favorable.
Geologically, the great plain of India’s alluvial soil is classified into older Bhangar soils and younger or newer khadar.
Main Differences Black Soil and Alluvial Soil
- The chemical composition of black soil are phosphates, hummus and nitrogen (low), potash (less than 0.5 percent), iron oxide (9-10 percent), alumina (10 percent), magnesium carbonates, and lime (6- 8 percent). Meanwhile, chemical properties of alluvial soil are nitrogen (low), potash, phosphoric acid and Alkalies (adequate), lime, and iron oxide (vary within a wide range).
- Black soil mostly consists of the Deccan trap region which consists of parts of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh. In contrast, in the river valleys and the northern plains, the alluvial soils are widespread. In the peninsula region, found in East Coast’s deltas and the River Valleys.
- When it comes to the capacity of moisture retention, there is a higher moisture retention capacity of black soil. On the other hand, the alluvial soil also has a capacity for moisture retention but less in comparison to black soil.
- In terms of coverage area, black soil covers about 16.6 percent of the total area, which is equal to 46 lakh sq km. On the flip side, alluvial soil covers about 46 percent of the total area and that’s why it is the largest soil group covering.
- For the cotton crop, black soil is best suited. The other black soil’s major crops consist of castor, wheat, linseed, sunflower, Virginia tobacco, and millets. Conversely, alluvial soil is best suited for sugarcane, rice, cotton, maize, wheat, tobacco, jute, and oilseeds.
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.