What is Red Soil?

Red soil is a type of soil that is characterized by its reddish color. It is also known as Terra Rossa, which is Italian for "red earth." Red soil is found in areas where the climate is warm and humid, such as in tropical and subtropical regions. It is usually fertile and good for agriculture. Red soil is formed from the weathering of rocks that contain iron oxides. The most common type of rock that contributes to red soil is called basalt. The process of weathering breaks down the basalt into smaller pieces, and then the smaller pieces are broken down further into silt and clay. 


The iron oxides in the rocks are what give the soil its reddish colour. The fertility of red soil is due to its high levels of organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for plant growth. Red soil is also well-drained, which is important for agriculture. Red soil helps plants to grow better. The red colour of the soil comes from the iron oxide in the rocks. The fertility of red soil is due to its high levels of organic matter and nutrients. Red soil is well-drained, which is important for agriculture.

Soil Types


Characteristics of Red Soil


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There are many different types of soil, each with its unique characteristics. One way of classifying soils is by their colour. There are three main categories based on their colours: red soil, black soil, and alluvial soil. These three colours reflect the types of rocks from which they formed. All soils, no matter what color, contain water and air as well as organic materials such as plants and animal remains. Red soil is a type of soil that is characterized by its reddish colour. It is also known as Terra Rossa, which is Italian for "red earth." Red soil is found in areas where the climate is warm and humid, such as in tropical and subtropical regions. It is usually fertile and good for agriculture. Red soil is formed from the weathering of rocks that contain iron oxides. 


The most common type of rock that contributes to red soil is called basalt. The process of weathering breaks down the basalt into smaller pieces, and then the smaller pieces are broken down further into silt and clay. The iron oxides in the rocks are what give the soil its reddish colour. The fertility of red soil is due to its high levels of organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for plant growth. Red soil is also well-drained, which is important for agriculture.


What is Red Soil?

Red soil is considered to be soil that generally develops in warm temperatures and moist climates. They are developed under deciduous conditions and are generally found in mixed forests. They have thin organic and mineral layers overlying a yellowish-brown leached layer which can be seen resting on an illuvial red layer. Red soils are generally formed from sedimentary rocks which are rich in iron. These soils are not suitable for cultivating because they are low in nutrients, making them poor growing soil. We learn more about red soil on this page. 


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Types of Red Soil

Red soil for plants is available in various types. Let's discuss some of these soils:-


Red Clay Soil

Red clay soil is commonly known as Ultisols. They come under the twelve soil orders, which were introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Taxonomy. These are considered to be mineral soils that do not have any calcareous material present in them. These soils have 10% less weatherable minerals in the extremely top layer and also have a saturation base of less than 35% throughout the soil. You can find ultisols in tropical regions that experience humid temperatures. They are found in regions such as Africa, Asia, and South America.


Red Loam Soil

According to researchers, this red loam soil is formed by the decomposition of granite, gneiss charnockite, and diorite rocks. These soils are found to be cloddy, porous, and deficient in concretionary materials. These soils don't have enough nitrogen, phosphorus, and various organic materials. These soils contain a sufficient amount of potash. Red sandy loam soil is not good for agriculture because they are not that fertile. These soils are mainly found in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Eastern Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and many other states.


Red Laterite Soil

Red laterite soil is a type of soil that is considered as a brick also. This type of soil is rich in iron and aluminium. They are usually formed in hot and wet tropical areas. These soils are red because of the iron oxide content; this mineral gave the soil a red colouration. These soils are developed when the underlying parent rock starts intensive and prolonged weathering. The areas where you can find the majority of laterites are situated between the tropics of cancer and the tropics of Capricorn. Laterites are considered to be a source of aluminium ores.


Red Yellow Soil

Red, yellow soil is a type of soil that is formed under broad-leaved forests. Generally, these types of forests are found in humid subtropical regions. These soils are believed to have an acid reaction within them. The humus content in these soils is significantly less as compared to other soils. The red-yellow colour of the soil is due to the presence of ferric hydroxide in the soil. As per many researchers, the thickness of these soil ranges between 30-70 cm. The thickness of these soils varies in different places. One can find these types of soil in China, the Southern United States, southeastern Australia, and New Zealand.


Red Sandy Soil

This type of soil is light, warm, and dry. They tend to have acidic content in them and are low in nutrients. Red sandy soil is generally known as light soil because of a high proportion of sand and less clay (clay always weighs more than sand). These soils are easy to work with because they have water drainage that is quick most of the time. As these soils don't have a sufficient amount of nutrients and organic matters; thus, these soils are not preferable for cultivation. In simple words, these soils are poor fertility soils. These soils are found in regions where the rainfall is arid, semi-arid, and humid.


Red Gravel Soil

This type of soil is found with 20% gravel in the topmost layer; sometimes, it is more than 20% also. These gravels are distributed and scattered throughout the soil. This type of soil affects the growth of plants because of the gravel content. These gravels act as a barrier to plant growth. Plants also can't develop in these types of soils because they can't get enough nutrients from red gravel soil. This soil lacks fertilizers. The gravels present in the soil penetrate the roots causing damage to the plants. So it is clear that agriculture is not a good choice on these soils.


Gravels present in the soil help to break up the clay soil and create air pockets where oxygen is stored. Plants that can grow in this type of soil are perennials, ornamental grasses, and herbs.


Use of Red Soil in Agriculture

Red soil is often used for agriculture because it is fertile and well-drained. It is especially beneficial for crops that require a lot of nutrients, such as bananas and sugarcane. Red soil can also be used to grow other types of crops, such as vegetables and fruits.


Following are the types of crops that can be grown in red soil:


  • Bananas

  • Sugarcane

  • Fruits like oranges, pineapples, and avocados

  • Vegetables like carrots, potatoes, celery, beets, spinach, beans, peas, and corn. 


Red soil is used to grow these crops because it has lots of nutrients needed for plant growth, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The soil is also well-drained, which is important for agriculture.


From our context, we understand that red soil is mostly loamy and hence cannot retain water like the black soil. However, with the proper use of fertilizers and irrigation techniques, red soil can give good yield of cotton, wheat, rice, pulses, millets, tobacco, oil seeds, potatoes and fruits.

FAQs on Red Soil

1. What are the Characteristics of Red Soil?

The following are the important characteristics of red soil:

  • The name of the soil was given because of its colour.
  • Red soil is porous and has a high proportion of iron oxide in it.
  • This category of soil is considered to be shallow, having a ph value ranging from 6.6 to 8.0.
  • This soil is loose and aerated. However, it contains soluble soil in smaller quantities.
  • It has an insufficient quantity of nitrogen, potassium, phosphates and other organic matters.
  • It is not fertile, and doesn’t respond to any fertilizer. This means that red soil might demand cultivation support if you are planning to do agriculture using this soil.

2. What are the Advantages of Red Soil?

The main advantages of red soil are as follows:

  • The red soil is considered to be highly weathered.

  • The red soil contains a rare clay material which is known as kalinite.

  • The specific gravity of these soil ranges between 2.6 to 2.8.

  • Red soil has better drainage capacity when compared with other soils that are present on the earth surface.

  • These soil also have a high percentage of iron and aluminium in them.

  • These soils also respond to fertilizer but in the presence of some cultivation system.

  • They are low in nutrients but can be used for cultivation.

3. What is a laterite?

Laterite is a type of soil that consists of a high proportion of iron and aluminium oxides. These types of soils are mostly found in tropical regions. The laterites have a reddish-brown colour which can vary from light to dark brown. Laterite soils have a thick layer at the surface because these types of soils break down quickly. In laterite soils, the iron oxide content is higher than the aluminium oxides. Laterite soils are acidic and have a high amount of silica which is not so beneficial for plant growth. Thus, this type of soil is poor fertile soil and not suitable for agriculture.

4. What type of soils are found in humid regions?

Humid regions' soils are normally red, yellow, and black, which is due to the presence of organic matter, iron oxide, and humic acid within them, respectively. These types of soil are good for agriculture. They have higher fertility content which helps in sustainable crop growth. Humid regions' soils have higher organic matter content, which is beneficial for plants. They contain a high amount of fungi and bacteria, which help in locking up the soil pores with water and air for a longer period thus, making it easier for the plants to absorb these resources.

5. What is the acid reaction in red, yellow soils?

The acid reaction in red, yellow soils is due to the presence of aluminium oxide and iron oxide in them. These two oxides are responsible for the creation of an acidic condition in the soil. The more content of these oxides, the more acidic the soil will be. Because of this, most crops fail to grow in red, yellow soils. Yellow soils are acidic and have a high amount of silica which is not so beneficial for plant growth. Thus, this type of soil is poor fertile soil and not suitable for agriculture.

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