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·        Soil is our prime natural and economic resource because we derive everything that we need in our life from it. The word "Soil" originated from the Latin word "Solum" which means 'Floor'. The soil is a natural body of mineral and organic materials differentiated into horizons which differ among themselves as well as from the underlying material in morphology, physical make-up, chemical composition and biological characteristics. 

·        There are many different classifications of soils of Punjab by different sources. The layman does not easily understand the soil taxonomy classification. What fallows is the simple texture based soil classification on the basis of texture, climate, topography and denudation process. The soils of Punjab have been classified into the following major types:  

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Flood Plain or Bet Soils  

·       Flood Plain or Bet Soils are Khadar soils of the periodically flooded or old  flood plain areas of various rivers, streams or choes of the state. They are found in the form of elongated belts on the both side of the river channel such as those of Satluj, Ravi, Beas and Ghagghar.

·        They are pale to yellowish brown in colour. The soils are well drained and  very deep and they vary in texture and these have generally a low and irregular organic matter.

·      Depending upon the source of alluvium, the soils are calcareous or non-calcareous. There is a wide belt of more mature bet soils of old flood plain extending along the west bank of river Satluj from Ropar towm to Fazilka town in the south west.

·        These soils are called Ustifluvent or Udi or Torripsamments in Taxonomy Classification. These soils are suitable for the cultivation of paddy, wheat, sugarcane and vegetables.  

Loamy Soils  

·        It is the most important, fertile and productive soil group of the state. It is the predominant soil especially of Nawa Shehar District, larger parts of Nakoder tehsil of Jalandhar district, Phagwara and central parts of Kapurthala district.  

·        In Malwa plain, loamy soils have a large coverage in western Patiala tehsil, Nabha area, Sangrur area, southern Moga district, some patches in Mukatsar area and Bathinda district.

·        These soils cover nearly 25% area of the state. In Taxonomy classification these are Ustochrepts of Ustic zone of Punjab. The soils become clayey towards northwest in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.

·     These are deep and fine grained soils, which have developed under sub- moist and cool to warm temperate climate. The pH value decreasing nears the surface from 8.0 to 7.8 in the B-horizon. 

·      Due to flooding by choes or rivulets and excessive irrigation the soils become partly salt affected or sodic in western Amritsar district, southwestern Batala tehsil of Gurdaspur district. These soils are intensively cultivated for wheat and paddy crops. 

Sandy Soils 

·        These are arid soils of south-western and south central Punjab covering the districts of Bathinda, Mansa, southern parts of Firozepur and Mukatsar districts, larger parts of Sangrur, south -central parts of Patiala district and some patches of Ludhiana district.

·        These soils have developed under semi arid & warm to hot climatic conditions with rainfall ranging from 30cm to 50cm.

·        The soils are yellowish to grey colour, the over all grey colure reflects the deficiency of organic matter and also is poor in nitrogen, phosphorus and potash.

·        The pH value ranges from 7.8 to 8.5. The soils are sandy loam to silt in mixture. They are dry and are called calciorthids in Taxonomy Classification.

·        They have low to medium fertility but by artificial irrigation they become much more productive and are capable of producing cotton, citrus, oilseeds, wheat and fodder crops.


Desert Soils 

·        These soils belong to the aridic zone spreading over south -western parts of the state in Abohar tehsil and zira area of Firozpur district, Mukatsar district, large parts of Bathinda and Mansa district an some patches in Sangrur and Ludhiana district.

·        These soils cover more than 11% of the total area of the state. These soils have developed under arid and hot climate and thin cover or bush vegetation.

·        The average rainfall is upto 30 cm. This soil is dry and deficient in humus. It is poor in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

·         The reaction is from normal to alkaline and pH value ranges from 7.5 to 8.5. the fertility with respect to plant nutrient is LMM (low to medium).

·         In the south -western aridic zone wind action has played a major role in the formation of these soils. These are sand dune studded. The soils are covered by wind blown sand.

·        The soils are light in colour from yellow to light brown. These soils are suitable for the cultivation of cotton, moth, citrus, wheat, bajra and other Kharif fodder. The soils suffer from wind erosion especially in the summers. 

Kandi Soils

·        These soils are found in the areas of Pathankot tehsil of Gurdaspur, larger parts of Hoshiarpur, Nawashehar and Ropar districts.

·        These soils have a sandy, sandy loam, silt loam and clay- silt to gravelly texture.

·        The texture becomes coarser and rougher eastward the Shivaliks hills where gravel, pebbles and conglomerates predominates.

·        These have been deposited by numerous choes coming from shivaliks hills. The soils are badly eroded and less productive and are suitable from dry farming. 


·        These soils cover nearly 25% area of the state. Sierozems are grey soils of semi arid parts of Punjab with an average annual rainfall from 50cm to 70cm, the general air temperature ranges from 24° C to 25° C and have grass and deciduous vegetation.

·        These soils are found in eastern half of the malwa plain in Ludhiana districts, northern and central parts of Sangrur district, Fatehgarh Sahib district, Rajpura and Patiala district, western parts of Patiala district and some inter dunal areas of Faridkot districts.

·         In Doaba and Majha region this soils cover is found in the form of a long belt extending from Mukerian in north through Tanda, Jalandharm Adampur, Nakodar blocks in the south.

·        The soil cover also extends over the westermn parts of Kapurthala districts and Tarn Taran and Patti tehsils of Amritsar districts.

·        The soils are overall grey colour which indicates its deficiency in organic matter. Nitrogen and Potash are not sufficient. pH value ranges between 7.8 to 8.5.

·        These soils are known as Camborthids or calciorthids in south-western Punjab and Ustochrepts in central Punjab in Taxonomy Classification of soils of Punjab.

·        These soils produce highest yield of wheat under irrigation. Paddy cultivation has been introduced in these soils. Excessive irrigation has resulted in some form of salinity. 

Grey- Brown Podzolic & Forest Soils

·        These are the Shivalik stony, gravelly and sandy soils of some blocks of Gurdaspur districts and Shivalik hill zone of Hoshiarpur, Nawashehar and Ropar districts. These soils have developed under shrub and deciduous forests, steep slopes and rugged topography, much water erosion and less hot temperature conditions. These soils are reddish brown to olive brown in colour. 

Sodic and Saline Soils 

·        On account of climate and topography, anthropogenic activities and mismanagement, soils suffer from various kinds and degree of degradation, particularly salinity and sodicity.

·        Salinity is the presence of high content of soluble salts (more than 0.2 percent) which make it difficult for the plants to absorb water from saline soils. The salt moves up and down in the soil along with soil water.

·        The pH values are generally 7.3 to 8.5 and the soil is neutral in reaction. Sodic soils have a higher percentage of sodium ( more than 15 %) salt and high pH value above 8.5 and strong alkaline reaction.

·        There are large tracts of slightly to moderately saline/sodic soil in Malwa plain due to aridity and depression like lower position of Fazilka, Jalalabad, Guru Harsahai, Talwandi  Bhai in Firozpur district, northern parts of Faridkot and Mukatsar districts, eastern parts  of Mansa district, Govindgarh, Khokhar area of Sangrur district and Samana.

·        All areas of saline/sodic soils lies along or across Bikaner canal, Abohar, Bathinda, Ghagghar and Kotla branches of Sirhind canal and Bhakra canal in these areas.

·        Saline soils of south-western Punjab are of recent origin resulting from surface flooding and or rise in the ground water.

·        During summer period of excessive evaporation, salts accumulate at the surface. Lower terraces, along river Ravi, in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts and along river Satluj in Nakodar and Sultanpur tehsil and south western parts of Kapurthala have uncultivated moderately to severely sodic and saline soils which are water logged pockets. They have aquatic horizon.

                                                                              Source: Department of Soil & Water Conservation, Punjab