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Land, Soil & Water Resources

Land is an essential natural
Why is land an important resource? resource, both for the survival &
• Land is the habitat of man. prosperity of humanity, and for
• All the economic activities are performed the maintenance of all terrestrial
on land. ecosystems.
• The soil cover on the land is essential for
plant 29% of Earth Surface is covered by Land
• growth. So land is necessary for Dessert / Forest / Mountains / Ice caps
agriculture. Land is used to setup industrial Uneven Distribution of Population
• Roads and railways are built on the land. Increased demand, or pressure
• Commercial activities also require land. on land resources, shows up as
Natural declining crop production,
• vegetation and wild life are supported by degradation of land quality and
land. quantity, and competition for
Land Use Categories
Arable or Cropland: A land cover/use category that includes areas used for
the production of adapted crops for harvest. Two subcategories of
cropland are recognized: cultivated and noncultivated

Pasture land: A land cover/use category of land managed primarily for the
production of introduced forage plants for livestock grazing

Fallow land that is normally used for farming but that is left with no crops
on it for a season in order to let it recover its fertility.

Cultivable waste land includes all land available for cultivation or taken up
for cultivation once, but not cultivated during the current year and the
preceding five years or more in succession.

Forest is a piece of land with many trees. They are an ecosystem which
includes many plants and animals.

Non-Agriculture Land is used for construction of houses, followed by

roads, establishment of business enterprises as well as brick fields
Causes Of Land Degradation
• Large scale soil erosion caused by running water and wind.
• Dumping of waste materials from mining centers and industrial units.
• Over irrigation leads to increase in salinity and alkalinity in the soil.
• Over grazing by animals and deforestation by man.
• Waste water from the industrial units pollute the lands.
• Mineral processing like grinding of limestone for cement industry and calcite
and soap stone for ceramic industry creates a lot of dust. This dust is deposited
in the neighboring land.
• Some industries dump solid waste which contains harmful chemicals on the
neighboring lands.
• Some industries discharge waste water to the fields.
• Clearing of forest for industrial purpose also cause degradation.
Land Conservation Measures
• Soil erosion can be prevented by ending deforestation, controlling grazing,
encouraging afforestation and practicing terrace farming in hilly areas.
• Preparation of shelter belts of plants and stabilizing of sand dunes by
growing thorny bushes will help to prevent land degradation in deserts.
• Mining activities should be controlled. New technology which reduces
wastage can be adopted.
• Industrial waste should be chemically treated to remove the harmful
• Urban waste should be used for the production of biogas and bio-manure.
• Over irrigation should be stopped and new method of irrigation should be
In a landslide, masses of rock, earth, or debris
move down a slope under direct influence of
Landslides may be small or large, slow or rapid.
They are activated by:
• storms,
• earthquakes,
• floods
• volcanic eruptions, Landslide in Uttarakhand
• fires, June 2013
• alternate freezing or thawing, and 6000People died
• steepening of slopes by erosion or human 4000 villages were
modification like deforestation, mining affected
Soils are formed from the interactions between five factors:
1. Parent material - This gives the soil its characteristics such as grain size and chemistry. It can be bedrock, sand or
sediments left by glaciers or rivers. Rocks contain elements useful for plants, such as potassium (K), aluminium (Al),
iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) useful for plant growth. When rocks weather, these elements are released into the
newly formed soil.
2. Climate - The climate affects soil formation by temperature and moisture. Extremely cold temperatures will freeze
the soil, stopping it from developing, whilst very hot temperatures slow down soil formation. When the climate is
temperate (milder and usually wetter) conditions for soil development are more favourable.
3. Topography-Height affects temperature. Mountains tend to be cooler than low lying coastal zones. Mountains can
also help clouds form, and so increase rainfall. This is part of the reason why parts of the crofting counties are so wet.
On low-lying areas soils tend to be deeper than in uplands and generally the steeper the slope, the thinner the soil.
4. Biota-Large organisms such as earthworms ingest organic material near the surface of the soil and then burrow
down, excreting organic material as they move. This releases nutrients from organic matter such as nitrogen (N) and
carbon (C) into the soil. Micro-organisms (bacteria/fungi) are responsible for decomposing organic material that
enters the soil.
5. Time-Soils take time to form. Parent material weathers as the seasons change and the temperature fluctuates.
Erosion can take millions of years or happen suddenly during a storm. It takes time for micro-organisms and plants to
colonize the soil and start mixing it.

People also influence soils in many ways, e.g., by adding organic material and ploughing
Soil Profile - Layers •A vertical section through different layers of the soil is called
the soil profile.
•Each layer differs in feel (texture), colour, depth and
chemical composition. These layers are referred to as
•A soil horizon is a layer generally parallel to the soil surface,
whose physical characteristics differ from the layers above
and beneath.
•Horizons are defined in most cases by obvious physical
features, chiefly colour and texture.
•The uppermost horizon is generally dark in colour as it is
rich in humus and minerals. The humus makes the soil fertile
and provides nutrients to growing plants.
•This layer is generally soft, porous and can retain more
water. It is called the topsoil or the A-horizon.
•The next layer has a lesser amount of humus but more of
minerals. This layer is generally harder and more compact
and is called the B-horizon or the middle layer.
•The third layer is the C-horizon, which is made up of small
lumps of rocks with cracks.
Soil Profile – Layers (Horizon)
Surface soil :
It is the part of top soil. Parent rock:
In this layer, organic matter is mixed with mineral matter. Weathered parent material accumulates in
It is the layer of mineral soil with the most organic matter accumulation this layer, i.e. the parent material in
and soil life. sedimentary deposits.
This layer is depleted of (eluviated of) iron, clay, aluminum, organic It is a layer of large unbroken rocks.
compounds, and other soluble constituents. This layer may accumulate the more soluble
compounds (inorganic material).
Eluviated layer:
It is the horizon that has been significantly leached of clay, iron, and Bedrock:
aluminum oxides, which leaves a concentration of resistant minerals, his layer denotes the layer of partially
such as quartz, in the sand and silt sizes. weathered bedrock at the base of the soil
These are present only in older, well-developed soils, and generally occur profile.
between the A and B horizons. Unlike the above layers, R horizons largely
comprise continuous masses of hard rock.
Subsoil: Soils formed in situ will exhibit strong
It is subsurface layer reflecting chemical or physical alteration of parent similarities to this bedrock layer.
material. These areas of bedrock are under 50 feet of
This layer accumulates all the leached minerals from A and E horizon. the other profiles.
Thus iron, clay, aluminum and organic compounds accumulate in this
horizon [illuviation (opposite of eluviation)].
Soil types
Soil can be categorised into sand, clay, silt, peat, chalk and loam types of soil based on the dominating size of the particles
within a soil.

Sandy soil
Sandy Soil is light, warm, dry and tend to be acidic and low in
nutrients. Sandy soils are often known as light soils due to their
high proportion of sand and little clay (clay weighs more than
These soils have quick water drainage and are easy to work with.
They are quicker to warm up in spring than clay soils but tend to
dry out in summer and suffer from low nutrients that are washed
away by rain.
Clay Soil
Clay Soil is a heavy soil type that benefits from high nutrients.
Clay soils remain wet and cold in winter and dry out in summer.
These soils are made of over 25 percent clay, and because of the
spaces found between clay particles, clay soils hold a high
amount of water.
Because these soils drain slowly and take longer to warm up in
summer, combined with drying out and cracking in summer, they
can often test gardeners.
Soil types
Silt Soil
Silt Soil is a light and moisture retentive soil type with a high
fertility rating.
As silt soils compromise of medium sized particles they are well
drained and hold moisture well.
As the particles are fine, they can be easily compacted and are
prone to washing away with rain.
By adding organic matter, the silt particles can be bound into
more stable clumps.

Peat Soil
Peat soil is high in organic matter and retains a large
amount of moisture.
This type of soil is very rarely found in a garden and often
imported into a garden to provide an optimum soil base for
Soil types
Chalk Soil
Chalk soil can be either light or heavy but always highly
alkaline due to the calcium carbonate or lime within its
As these soils are alkaline they will not support the growth of
ericaceous plants that require acidic soils to grow.
If a chalky soil shows signs of visible white lumps then they
can’t be acidified and gardeners should be resigned to only
choose plants that prefer an alkaline soil.

Loam Soil
Loam soil is a mixture of sand, silt and clay that are
combined to avoid the negative effects of each type.
These soils are fertile, easy to work with and provide good
drainage. Depending on their predominant composition
they can be either sandy or clay loam.
As the soils are a perfect balance of soil particles, they are
considered to be a gardeners best friend, but still benefit
from topping up with additional organic matter.
Soil Types of India

1.Alluvial soil [43%]

2.Red soil [18.5%]
3.Black / regur soil
4.Arid / desert soil
5.Laterite soil
6.Saline soil
7.Peaty / marshy soil
8.Forest soil
9.Sub-mountain soil
Soil Types of India
Alluvial soil:
Mostly available soil in India (about 43%) which covers an
area of 143
Widespread in northern plains and river valleys.
In peninsular-India, they are mostly found in deltas and
Humus, lime and organic matters are present.
Highly fertile.
Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputhra plain, Narmada-Tapi plain etc
are examples.
They are depositional soil – transported and deposited by
rivers, streams etc.
Sand content decreases from west to east of the country.
New alluvium is termed as Khadar and old alluvium is
termed as Bhangar.
Colour: Light Grey to Ash Grey.
Texture: Sandy to silty loam or clay.
Rich in: potash
Poor in: phosphorous.
Wheat, rice, maize, sugarcane, pulses, oilseed etc are
cultivated mainly.
Soil Types of India Black soil / regur soil:
•Regur means cotton – best soil for cotton cultivation.
•Most of the Deccan is occupied by Black soil.
Red soil:
•Mature soil.
•Seen mainly in low rainfall area.
•High water retaining capacity.
•Also known as Omnibus group.
•Swells and will become sticky when wet and shrink when
•Porous, friable structure.
•Absence of lime, kankar (impure calcium carbonate).
•Self-ploughing is a characteristic of the black soil as it
•Deficient in: lime, phosphate, manganese, nitrogen,
develops wide cracks when dried.
humus and potash.
•Rich in: Iron, lime, calcium, potassium, aluminum and
•Colour: Red because of Ferric oxide. The lower layer
is reddish yellow or yellow.
•Deficient in: Nitrogen, Phosphorous and organic matter.
•Texture: Sandy to clay and loamy.
•Colour: Deep black to light black.
•Wheat, cotton, pulses, tobacco, oilseeds, potato etc
•Texture: Clayey.
are cultivated.
Soil Types of India
Laterite soil:
•Name from Latin word ‘Later’ which means Brick.
•Become so soft when wet and so hard when
•In the areas of high temperature and high rainfall.
•Formed as a result of high leaching.
•Lime and silica will be leached away from the
•Organic matters of the soil will be removed fast
by the bacteria as it is high temperature and
humus will be taken quickly by the trees and other
plants. Thus, humus content is low.
•Rich in: Iron and Aluminum
•Deficient in: Nitrogen, Potash, Potassium, Lime,
•Colour: Red colour due to iron oxide.
•Rice, Ragi, Sugarcane and Cashew nuts are
cultivated mainly.
Soil Types of India
Peaty / marshy soil:
Desert / arid soil: •Areas of heavy rainfall and high humidity.
•Seen under Arid and Semi-Arid conditions. •Growth of vegetation is very less.
•Deposited mainly by wind activities. •A large quantity of dead organic matter/humus which
•High salt content. makes the soil alkaline.
•Lack of moisture and Humus. •Heavy soil with black colour.
•Kankar or Impure Calcium carbonate content is high
which restricts the infiltration of water.
•Nitrogen is insufficient and Phosphate is normal.
•Texture: Sandy
•Colour: Red to Brown.
Soil Types of India
Forest soil:
•Regions of high rainfall.
•Humus content is less and thus the soil is acidic.

Mountain soil:
•In the mountain regions of the country.
Soil Conservation
“Soil erosion is the greatest single evil to Indian agriculture and animal husbandry”.
Soil is our most precious asset and no other gift of nature is so essential to human
life as soil. Productive soil alone ensures prosperous agriculture, industrial
development, economic betterment and a higher standard of living.
“Soil conservation is the prevention of
soil loss from erosion or reduced
fertility caused by over usage,
acidification, salinization or other
chemical soil contamination. Slash-and-
burn and other unsustainable methods
of subsistence farming are practiced in
some lesser developed areas. A sequel
to deforestation is typically large scale
erosion, loss of soil nutrients and
sometimes total desertification.”

1.The soil is literally the foundation of plant life. A tree will not be a tree without soil. While there
are some plants that can live in water or air, most plants need to be rooted to the ground.
It is the soil that provides nutrition to this plant life. It is through this vegetation that
nourishes the humankind and the animal kingdom. Plants are important resource of food
and fuel and of wood and other by-products that make our other life functions possible.

2.The soil additionally supports the animal kingdom. Our agriculture also relies on soil, for its
location and for other functions to be derived from its existence. It will be almost impossible to
support the animal and human life without land. Biodiversity relies on soil at all times.

3.The soil is necessary for water supply. This is the magic of nature. The land is also necessary to
ensure the quality of water we derive from our earth. Soil and water co-exist. So do we and soil
co-exist? Taking good care of our soil equates to taking care of our water supply.
There are always a lot more reasons to conserve soil. However, I believe that the above are
simply enough for us to start conserving our land resources as soon as we can.
Soil Conservation Methods
Cover Cropping and Mulching are effective at reducing soil
erosion by leaving a cover over the soil which reduces soil
displacement associated with the impact of raindrops hitting soil
particles. They also reduce the volume and velocity of runoff over
the soil.
Mulching consists of applying organic material over the exposed
soil. Hay makes the best mulch, but it is important to ensure that
the hay is harvested before weeds are mature. Straw can also be
Contour Bunds are small embankment type structures made
up of locally available earth materials. Land slope and soil
characteristics are considered for selection of bund type and
design. Bunds help to check the velocity of the run-off, to carry
excessive rainfall safely downstream and to let off stream flow
in natural channels. Bunding increases the time of
concentration of rainwater where it fall thereby allowing
rainwater to percolate into the soil. Where ever possible
agronomic conservation measures like agrostology, planting of
grass specials etc are provided on the constructed bunds.
Soil Conservation Methods
Terrace farming across the hill slopes is a very effective and one
of the oldest methods of soil conservation. Hill slope is cut into
a number of terraces having horizontal top and steep slopes on
the back and front.
Terracing divides the hill slope into numerous small slopes,
checks the flow of water, promotes absorption of water by soil
and saves soil from erosion. Retaining walls of terraces control
the flow of water and help in reducing soil erosion.

Crop Rotation - In many parts of India, a particular crop is sown

in the same field year after year. This practice takes away
certain elements from the soil, making it infertile and
exhausted rendering it unsuitable for that crop. Rotation of
crops is the system in which a different crop is cultivated on a
piece of land each year.
This helps to conserve soil fertility as different crops make
different demands on the soil. By rotating different types of
crops in successive years, soil fertility can be naturally
Soil Conservation Methods
Shelterbelts are used to reduce wind erosion, protect growing
plants (crops and forage), manage snow, and improve irrigation
efficiency. Windbreaks also protect structures and livestock,
provide wildlife habitat, improve aesthetics, and provide tree or
shrub products. The shelterbelt height varies according to tree
species, site conditions, and management levels, and keeps
increasing before the maturity of the shelterbelt. The
shelterbelt height can be described by the maximum height of
individual trees, the average height to the tops of the taller
trees or as the height averaged over randomly located points
along the length of the shelterbelt.

Plugging, also called check dams, are mainly built to prevent

erosion and to settle sediments and pollutants. Furthermore,
it is possible to keep soil moisture due to infiltration.
Depending on the topography, amount of precipitation,
material and financial resources available, there are several
methods to construct a gully plug. They have to be inspected
regularly and any damages must be repaired.
Water Resources
Water is essential for human civilisation, living organisms, and natural
habitat. It is used for drinking, cleaning, agriculture, transportation, industry,
recreation, and animal husbandry, producing electricity for domestic,
industrial and commercial use.

Saltwater – 97% - The majority of water on Earth is salty!

Ice – 2.06% - Most of the freshwater on the Earth is frozen! So much of our
water is frozen, that if all of it melted at once, the sea would rise about 6
meters (20 feet)!

Groundwater – 0.9% - Nearly anywhere you can stand on the Earth’s surface,
there is water in the ground underneath your feet. Water from rain trickles
downward through the soil until it reaches material that is already saturated
with water.

Lakes – 0.008% - Lakes are just one type of surface-water – water that is
easily accessible and visible on the surface of the Earth. Lakes form where
water runoff from rain and snow accumulates.
Water Resources
Wetlands – 0.001% - Wetlands occur in areas
where water covers the soil for varying periods of
time. This phenomenon can occur along coastlines
where tides move water back and forth over the
land, and in areas that are prone to flooding such
as low lying areas around lakes and rivers.

Rivers – 0.0002% - Rivers form where water flows

downhill, due to gravity, making a journey from the
tops of mountains to the sea. Many different plant
and animal species can be found along rivers.
Although, rivers make up a small proportion of
Earth’s water resources they have and continue to
be an important resource for humans, serving as
transit systems for exploration and transport of
goods, power generation, recreation, and a source
of freshwater.
India has only about 4 per cent of the world’s renewable water resources but
is home to nearly 18 per cent of the world’s population
• India receives an average annual precipitation
(rainfall) of 4,000 billion cubic metres (BCM)
which is the principle source of fresh water in
the country.
• India has about 20 river basins.
• Groundwater plays an important part in India’s
economy. It caters to about 85 per cent of
rural demand, 50 per cent urban requirements
and more than 60 per cent of our irrigation
• India experiences both floods and droughts
periodically. Nearly a third of the country’s
geographical area is drought-prone whereas
12 per cent of the area is prone to floods. The
effect of global warming further intensifies
temporal and spatial variations in
precipitation, melting of snow and water
Conservation of Water Resources
1) Sustainability: To ensure availability for future generations, the withdrawal of fresh water from an ecosystem should
not exceed its natural replacement rate.
2) Energy conservation: Water pumping, delivery, and wastewater treatment facilities consume a significant amount of
energy. In some regions of the world over 15% of total electricity consumption is devoted to water management.
3) Habitat conservation: Minimizing human water use helps to preserve fresh water habitats for local wildlife and
migrating water flow, as well as reducing the need to build new dams and other water diversion infrastructure.

Water conservation refers to reducing the usage of water and recycling of waste water for different purposes like
domestic usage, industries, agriculture etc.

Methods of Water Conservation: Protection of Water from Pollution;

Redistribution of Water Rational Use of Groundwater
Renovation of Traditional Water Sources Use of Modern Irrigation Methods
Increasing Forest Cover Change in Crop Pattern
Flood Management Conserving Water in Industries
Conservation of water by Municipal authorities Use rainwater effectively
Make effective use of soil water reserves Take measures to avoid run off
Avoid wasting water through evaporation Reduce water losses through drainage
Plan your irrigation Contour Farming& Contour Ploughing