The word Laterite is derived from Latin word ‘later’ which means ‘brick’. Main reason of laterite soils formation is due to intense leaching. Leaching happens due to high tropical rains and high temperature. As a result of high rainfall, lime and silica are leached away, and soils rich in iron oxide and aluminium compound are left behind. These soils are poor in organic matter, nitrogen, phosphate and calcium, while iron oxide and potash are in excess. These soils are developed on the summits of hills and uplands. In India, they are mostly found in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and hilly areas of Orissa and Assam. These soils have mainly developed in the higher areas of the peninsular plateau.
Red laterite soils which is mainly found in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are more suitable for tree crops like cashewnuts. This soil is widely cut as bricks for use in house construction also.