SOILS OF KERALA


soil distribution

Kerala State, a narrow strip of land along the coast is located in the extreme south western part of the Indian peninsula. It is flanked by the Lakshadweep Sea on the west and the lofty mountains of the Western Ghats on the east.
The state enjoys a hot humid tropical climate with two distinct monsoons viz. the south west and the north east. The mean annual rainfall for the last 10 years (2007-2016) recorded is 2790 mm with mean maximum and minimum temperature of 32°C and 23°C respectively.
Historically the state is covered by a tropical ever green forest climax vegetation with marshes in the lowlands and mangroves in the coastal lowlands. Physiography is characterized by a combination of distinct altitudinal variations resulting from the rise of the land mass from 5 m below sea level in the west to the soaring heights of 2695 m in the east. Three distinct parallel physiographic zones viz; low land, mid land and high land have been identified.
The parent materials of most of the soils of the state are the weathering products of crystalline acidic rocks, sedimentary formations and recent and sub recent sediments. The dominant soil forming process is laterisation which is an intense rock weathering process. Local variations in climate, vegetation and relief have a modifying effect on the factors of soil formation leading to the development of a variety of soils. The nomenclature adopted for the different kinds of soils described in this section is a combination of landforms, local place names and in some instances soil properties. Taxonomic equivalents for these soils are available in a number of publications. Ten broad soil groups and salient features

COASTAL SANDY SOILS (COASTAL PLAINS)


Coastal sandy soils

Distribution

Coastal areas of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts

General features

Sandy soils of marine origin. Deep and well drained. Low in organic matter, deficient in plant nutrients. Low capacity to retain water and nutrients

Fertility characteristics

Acidic, low to medium in organic carbon, high available phosphorus, low in potassium, magnesium and boron

Land use

Rice in the lowlands and vegetables during summer Coconut and tuber crops in uplands

ONATTUKARA SANDY SOILS (ONATTUKARA PLAINS)


Distribution

Kollam and Alappuzha districts

General features

Sandy soils, very deep, well drained, low in organic matter, deficient in plant nutrients. Sea water intrusion in coastal areas

Fertility characteristics

Acidic, poor in available nutrients and bases. High P levels in soils. Salinity is a problem in coastal areas.

Land use

Rice in the lowlands and vegetables during summer Coconut and tuber crops in uplands

COASTAL ALLUVIUM (POTENTIAL ACID SULPHATE SOILS- COASTAL LOWLANDS)


ആസിഡ് സല്‍ഫേറ്റ് മണ്ണ്

Distribution

Occur in coastal lowlands in areas slightly below or above sea level in Alappuzha, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts

General features

Soils formed from river alluvium and sulphur rich marine sediments and are potential acid sulphate. They are extremely acidic and poorly drained. Salinity problem in coastal areas

Fertility characteristics

Extremely acidic, high level of organic matter, low P, deficient in calcium, magnesium and boron

Land use

Rice is the major crop, vegetables grown during summer months in upper reaches. Coconut and tuber crops in raised bunds Integrated farming system with components on livestock and fisheries are successfully practiced in some areas.

POKKALI SOIL


പൊക്കാളി മണ്ണ്

Distribution

Occur in coastal lowlands in areas slightly below or above sea level in Alappuzha, Ernakulam, and Thrissur districts

General features

Soils formed from river alluvium and sulphur rich marine sediments and are potential acid sulphate. Soils are extremely acidic and poorly drained. Salinity problem in coastal areas.

Fertility characteristics

Extremely acidic, clayey, high levels of organic matter and phosphorus, deficient in calcium, magnesium and boron

Land use

Rice is the major crop followed by fish culture, Saline resistant ‘Pokkali’ variety is cultivated in mounds to overcome salinity hazards The monsoon rains wash away the salts from the mounds which are removed by tidal action. Fertilizers are not usually recommended

KOLE SOIL


കോള്‍ മണ്ണ്

Distribution

Occur in coastal lowlands in areas slightly below or above sea level in Thrissur and Malappuram districts

General features

Soils formed from river alluvium and sulphur rich marine sediments and some areas along the coast are potential acid sulphate. Soils are fertile and poorly drained. Salinity is a problem in coastal areas.

Fertility characteristics

Extremely acidic, high levels of organic matter and P, deficient in calcium, magnesium and boron

Land use

Rice is the major crop, vegetables during summer months in upper reaches. Coconut and tuber crops in raised bunds

KAIPPAD SOIL


Distribution

Occur in coastal areas slightly above sea level in Kannur District

General features

Soils formed from river alluvium and sulphur rich marine sediments and are potential acid sulphate. Soils are extremely acidic and poorly drained. Salinity problem in coastal areas.

Fertility characteristics

Extremely acidic, high levels of organic matter and P, deficient in calcium, magnesium sulphur, copper and boron

Land use

Rice is the major crop saline resistant varieties cultivated, vegetables during summer months in upper reaches. Coconut and tuber crops in raised bunds

RIVERINE ALLUVIAL SOILS (RIVER BANKS)


എക്കല്‍ മണ്ണ്

Distribution

Along the river banks in all the districts

General features

Very deep, acidic, well drained, non gravelly with varying texture(sandy loam to clay loam) formed from river alluvial deposits

Fertility characteristics

Acidic, medium in organic matter and potassium, high in phosphorus and deficient in Magnesium and boron

Land use

Rice in low lands Coconut, tuber crops, banana and vegetables in uplands

BROWN HYDROMORPHIC SOIL


Distribution

Foot hills and valleys of the midland laterite terrain of all the districts

General features

Acidic, deep, poorly drained, deficient in plant nutrients with toxic level of iron.

Fertility characteristics

Acidic, low to medium in organic matter, high phosphorus, low potassium, deficient in calcium, magnesium and boron

Land use

Rice is the major crop followed by tuber crops, banana and vegetables. Coconut in raised bunds

RED NON GRAVELLY LATERITE SOIL


ചെമ്മണ്ണ്

Distribution

Southern parts of Thiruvananthapuram District

General features

Very deep, non gravelly, acidic, well drained, clayey red soils. Absence of plinthite layer in lower layers

Fertility characteristics

Acidic, medium in organic matter, phosphorus and potassium. Adequate in calcium, magnesium and sulphur. Deficient in copper and boron

Land use

Coconut is major crop followed by banana, tuber crops, vegetables Rice is grown in lowlands

GRAVELLY LATERITE SOIL


വെട്ടുകല്‍ മണ്ണ്

Distribution

Midland terrain of all the districts

General features

Gravelly, well drained, strongly acidic, low water retention capacity, high phosphorus fixation, poor in bases. Good physical properties, but prone to erosion. Hard laterite pan in lower layers restricting root penetration

Fertility characteristics

Strongly acidic, high available phosphorus, deficient in magnesium and boron

Land use

Coconut, Banana, vegetables, rubber, tuber crops Rice is grown in lowlands

FOREST SOIL


വനമണ്ണ്

Distribution

Forest areas in all the districts

General features

Non gravelly, deep, well drained, acidic, loamy or clayey, rich in organic matter. Soils are reddish brown to dark brown, sub soils are clay loam to clay texture.

Fertility characteristics

Moderately acidic, high in organic matter, low in phosphorus, adequate in secondary and micro nutrients

Land use

Mostly forested areas

BLACK SOIL


കറുത്തമണ്ണ്

Distribution

Occur in nearly level plains of Chittoor Taluk in Palakkad District

General features

Alkaline reaction, deep, non gravelly, high activity clay soils with shrink-swell behavior, saturated with bases and contains free calcium carbonate. Moisture deficit experienced for five months. Soils exhibit cracking on the surface during summer and poor workability.

Fertility characteristics

Alkaline reaction, low organic matter and available phosphorus, adequate in secondary and micro nutrients except boron

Land use

Rice in lowlands Coconut, vegetables, tuber crops and banana in raised bunds

SPECIAL GROUP (SOILS OF LIMITED SPATIAL EXTENT)


Five special soil groups have been identified. These soils are distributed in patches and are of limited spatial extent. The salient features of these soils are given below.

Laterite plateau

Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts
Very shallow soils formed by severe erosion and exposure of plinthite layer found in nearly level plateau on the top of undulating hills. Exposed laterite forms iron stone by irreversible hardening
Shallow soils, Not suitable for crop cultivation

Marayoor soil (Lowhills and rolling lands)

Marayoor, Vattavada and Kanthalloor panchayats of Idukki District
Deep, near neutral, well drained, loamy, non gravelly soils, well supplied with plant nutrients
Slightly acidic soils, medium organic matter, high phosphorus, adequate in secondary and micro nutrients except boron
Mostly forested Cool season fruits & vegetables, potato and sugarcane are cultivated

Wayanad upland soil

Uplands of eastern parts of Wayanad District
Near neutral, red, deep, well drained, loamy or clayey and well supplied with bases
Slightly acidic, medium in organic matter, phosphorus, potassium and deficient in boron
Coffee, tea, arecanut and pepper in uplands. Rice and banana in lowlands

Upland soils of Palakkad central plains

Alathur, Kuzhalmannam, Nenmara Blocks and western parts of Chittoor Taluk in Palakkad District
Near neutral or slightly acid, red, deep, non gravelly loam or clay, moderate nutrient and water holding capacity
Slightly acid to slightly alkaline, medium in organic matter, phosphorus, potassium and deficient in boron
Coconut is the main crop with intercrops of tuber crops, banana and vegetables Rice in the lowlands

Low land soils of Palakkad central plain

Lowlands of Alathur and Chittoor Blocks, Palakkad taluk and Palakkad municipality
Moderately acid, deep, imperfectly drained, loam or clay, well supplied with bases. Moderate capacity to hold nutrients and water
Slightly acid, medium in organic matter, phosphorus, potassium and deficient in boron
Rice is the major crop

Poonthal padams (Lowlands of Palakkad eastern plains

Lowlands of Chittoor taluk in Palakkad District
Slushy soils with poor workability. Near neutral in reaction, base rich fertile clayey soils and imperfectly drained
Neutral reaction, medium in organic matter and deficient in boron
Rice is the major crop

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