Soils found in Himachal Pradesh
Soil generally refers to the loose material composed of weathered rock and other minerals, and the partly decayed organic matter that covers large parts of the earth. Soil plays a pivotal role in supporting the growth of crops, and other vegetation maintaining the environment clean, and acts as a source and sink for atmospheric gases.
Soils in India can be classified into the following three groups on the basis of cultivation (Jaiswal & Wadhwari 1980).
- Alluvial, black and red soils, which are fertile, arable and cultivable.
- Peat and Marsh, which are saline, alkaline and potentially arable.
- Laterite and forest and hill soils, which are not suitable for cultivation.
Soil formation is governed by various factors such as parent material, climate, vegetation, and topography etc. A variety of soil types are found in Himachal Pradesh. They vary in their physical and chemical characteristics. The following four under mentioned zones are found in the State of Himachal Pradesh:
Mountainous Soil Zone
- This zone constitutes the soils found at an elevation of 2100 m to 3000 m above sea level.
- The soils are mostly under forests. In some parts of it apple is grown successfully.
- These soils have been termed as dabar soils in some parts of Garhwal-Kumaon.
- Mountain and hill soils are very thin, fertile and may be less than a centimeter deep on steep slopes.
- The carbon-nitrogen ratio is very wide.
- The soils texture is dark brown in colour.
- The soil reaction is slightly acidic to moderately acidic.
- This zone comprises of some parts of Simla, Kangra and Kullu districts.
High Hill Soil Zone
- These soils are found between 1500 m to 2100 m above sea level.
- The soils are very steep and fine textured varying from silt-loam to Clay-loam and are of light to dark brown colour.
- Fertility status of these soils is quite high.
- The soil reaction is slightly acidic.
- This soil zone is most suitable for temperate fruit production like apple, cherry, pear (soft type), walnuts, chestnuts, etc.
- The zone comprises of Simla, Kulu and some parts of Mandi and Kangra districts.
Mid Hill Soil Zone
- These soils are found at an altitude of 900 m to 1500 m above sea level.
- The soil texture varies from loam to silt-loam.
- The colour is greenish to brown.
- The soils have varying percentage of pebbles and stones.
- The soils are susceptible to severe draught.
- The soil reaction is neutral to slightly acidic.
- The C-N ratio widens as compared to low hill soil zone.
- This zone comprises of part of Sirmour, Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi, Kulu, Kangra and Chamba districts.
- It is suitable for stone fruits like peach, plum, apricot, almond, persimmon, pears (hard varieties), pomegranate, etc.
Low Hill Soil Zone
- These soils are found up to 900 m above sea level.
- The texture of the soil is sandy-loam embedded with pebbles, stones and boulders.
- Soil colour is light grey to brown.
- The zone mostly constitutes the soils situated on the banks of rivers and streams.
- The soil reaction is mostly neutral.
- C-N ratio is around 10:1.
- The Zone comprises of entire districts of Una, Hamirpur, and parts of Bilaspur, Kangra, Mandi, Sirmour, Solan and Chamba districts.
- It is suitable for some sub-tropical fruits like citrus, mango, litchi, guava, etc.
Dry Hill Soil Zone
- This zone ranges from 2450 m to 3000 m above sea level.
- The Pangi tehsil of Chamba district and the districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul & Spiti comprise this zone.
- The soils are suited for production of dry fruits like almond, walnut, raisins, grapes, prunes and drying apricot.
- The soils are mostly sandy-loam to loam and slightly alkaline in reaction.
Read Also: Minerals found in Himachal Pradesh