Crops Suitable for Black Soil – A Full Guide

Introduction: Hello farmers, today we are back with a great information of crops suitable for black Soil, balck soil advanatge and disadvanatges.The soil is one of the important resources of our country, as the fertile soil helps us in producing several crops. This serves the food requirements not only within the country but in other parts of the world. While it is not the same at every place on the earth. The types of soil of a place are mainly determined by climate, landscape, and vegetation of that place. Soil depends on the time of its formation. Waht are we waiting for? Let’s jump into the details of crops suitable for black soil.

A step by step guide to crops suitable for black soil

Black soil is known as black lava soil. This soil black in color and it is formed from lava rocks and is rich in clay. Black soils are very highly retentive of moisture, extremely compact and tenacious when wet, significantly contracted developing deep wide cracks on drying and self – plowing. Black soils are credited with very high fertility. These are well suited to leguminous crops such as cotton, turn and citrus fruits. Other crops include Wheat, jowar, millets, linseed, castor, tobacco, sugarcane, safflower, and vegetables, etc.

Black soil is rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium but poor nitrogen content. Sandy soil is low in nutrient content but helps grow trees such as coconut, cashew, and casuarinas in areas with high rainfall.

Black soil is dark, as the name suggests, and fertile with a clay-like consistency. It holds moisture well and becoming hard in dry conditions and sticky in wet conditions. The soil is composed of less than 30 percent clay, wedge-shaped peds, and cracks that open and close periodically. In places with consistent rain, black soil is normally used for growing millet, cotton, soybean, sorghum and pigeon pea. When the soil is irrigated, black soil is used to cultivate other crops, for example, sugar cane, wheat, tobacco, and citrus crops. The soil can be used as a building material. If you are growing crops on commercial scale, you must know about crops suitable for black soil.

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A Guide to Black Soil.
A Guide to Black Soil.

Black soils are dark and have very high clay content and they have a high moisture retention capacity. They become very hard on drying and sticky on wetting. Hence, they are difficult to cultivate and manage. These soils cover an area of about 74 million ha, mostly in the central, western and southern states of India. They are inherently fertile. Under rainfed conditions, they are used for growing cotton, millets, soybean, sorghum, and pigeon pea, etc. Under irrigated conditions, they can be used for a variety of other crops, which are sugar cane, wheat, tobacco, and citrus crops.

Classification of black soil

Basis of the proportion of clay and silt regard soils are divided into two groups. They are;

Trappean black clayey soil – It occupies the main parts of peninsular India. This soil is heavy owing to finer constituents.

Trappean black loamy soil – In this soil the silt changes between 30 and 40 percent.

Based on the thickness of layers black soils can be divided into three subcategories

Shallow black soil – Its thickness less than 30 cm and the soil is utilized in the cultivation of jower, rice, wheat, gram, and cotton. Shallow black soil exists in Satpura hills (Madhya Pradesh), Bhandara, Nagpur and Satara (Maharashtra), Bijapur and Gulbarga districts (Karnataka ).

Medium black soil – Its thickness ranges between 30 and 100 cm. It mainly covers a larger area in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.

Deep black soil – Its thickness is more than one meter. The soil is fertile and utilized in raising the crops of cotton, sugarcane, rice, citrus fruits, vegetables, etc.

Advantages of black soil

  • Agro-friendly contents make them fertile.
  • These black soils are highly moisture-retentive, thus responding well to irrigation.
  • These soils are enriched with calcium carbonate, magnesium, potash, and lime which are all nutrients.
  • The iron-rich granular structure creates them resistant to wind and water.

Which crops suitable for black soil?

Black soil gets its color from different salts or humus. Black soil contains a large amount of clay but is sandy as well in hillier regions and this soil contains moderate amounts of phosphorous but is poor in nitrogen. This type of soil is used for rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton. It is additionally used to produce groundnut, millet, and oilseeds.

Black soil is ideal for growing crops that are cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, wheat, millets, and oilseeds. Black soil is to be the best variety of soil for the cultivation of cotton. Besides cotton, it is also suitable for producing cereals, oilseeds, citrus fruits and vegetables, tobacco and sugarcane. The moisture retentiveness makes them appropriate for dry farming.

Because of their high fertility and retentivity of moisture, the black soils are generally used for producing several important crops. Some of the main crops grown on the black soils are cotton, wheat, jowar, linseed, Virginia tobacco, castor, sunflower, and millets. Rice and sugarcane are equally important where irrigation facilities are obtainable. Large varieties of vegetables and fruits are successfully grown on black soil.

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Balck soil texture

Soil texture depends on the proportion of sand, silt or clay it contains. For example, a soil described as a silt loam contains mostly silt but also will contain some sand and clay in smaller proportions. A close look at soil will indicate that the makeup of the mineral portion is variable. Soil particles differ in size, shape and chemical composition. Some are so small they can be seen with a microscope. Texture has a good result on the management and productivity of the soil. Sandy soils are open generally loose and friable. Sand facilitates good drainage and aeration. Clay particles play an important role in soil fertility. They are normally very fertile soils, in respect of plant nutrient content. Loam soils and Silt loam soils are highly desirable for cultivation.

The black soil in India

The black soils are also known as regur and black cotton soils because cotton is the most important crop grown on these soils. Geographically, the black soils are spread over 5.46 lakh sq km (i.e. 16.6 percent of the total geographical area of the country). The black color of soils has been the presence of a small proportion of titaniferous magnetite or even to iron and black constituents of the parent rock. It contains 10 percent of alumina, 9-10 percent of iron oxide and 6-8 percent of lime and magnesium carbonates. Potash is variable (less than 0.5 percent) phosphates, nitrogen and humus are low.

Black soils are mainly found in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, parts of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu.

Indian black soils are normally called as  Black  Cotton  Soils and classified to Vertisols and Vertic intergrades of other orders.  These soils swell on wetting and shrink on drying and become extremely hard to work and manage.

In India, these soils occur mostly in the peninsular region. As per earlier approximate from the reconnaissance soil survey, these soils occupy about 70 M ha constituting 21.4 percent of the total geographical area of the country. Latest estimate of the extent of Vertisols and their intergrades specify that area under these soils is 51.3 M ha of which area under Vertisols is  26.62  M ha and area under  Vertic  Intergrades of  Entisols (Vertic) is about 0.20 M ha, Inceptisols (Vertic) is 23.76 M ha and Alfisols (Vertic) is 0.72 M ha.

These black soils are deep to shallow, dark-colored dominated by specific clay mineralogy with a unique structure. Among the black soils, the deep black soils are normally calcareous, dark in color with high in clay content, low in organic carbon, high CEC and high in shrink-swell potentials due to the occurrence of a large amount of smectitic clay in the fine earth. In general, Vertisols occupy lower topographic positions (toe slopes) and sometimes they occur on comparatively higher positions with stable slopes in association with shallow black soils. The climatic setting of these black soils ranges from arid to semi-arid to sub-humid to humid, characterized by hot and dry summer and mild winter intervened by a short period of summer monsoonal rainfall.

Most of the black soils are derived from two kinds of rocks they are the Deccan and the Rajmahal trap, and ferruginous gneisses and schists occurring in Tamil Nadu. The former are sufficiently deep while the later are normally shallow.

The black soil is essentially a mature soil which has been produced by relief and climate, rather than by a particular type of rock. Black soil occurs where the annual rainfall is between 50 to 80 cm and the number of rainy days ranges from 30 to 50. The occurrence of this black soil in the west Deccan where the rainfall is about 100 cm and the number of rainy days more than 50. And in some parts of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, the origin of black soils is ascribed to old lagoons in which the rivers deposited the materials brought down from the interior of the Peninsula covered with lava.

Geographically, these soils are spread over 5.46 lakh sq km encompassed between 15°N to 25°N latitudes and 72°E to 82°E longitudes. This is the region of high temperature and also low rainfall. It is a soil group of the dry and hot regions of the Peninsula.

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Typical characteristics of black soil

Black soils are made up of volcanic rocks and lava-flow. It is mainly concentrated over Deccan Lava Tract which includes parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.

And typical characteristics of black soil are swelling (during the wet period) and shrinkage (dry period). Black soil is also known as self-plowing soil.  The black soils are also called regur and black cotton soils because cotton is the important crop grown on black soils.

The black soil is retentive of moisture. It swells greatly and sticky when wet in the rainy season. Under such conditions, it is almost impossible to work on such soil because the plow obtains stuck in the mud.

Though, in the hot dry season, the moisture evaporates, the soil shrinks and is seamed with broad and deep cracks, often 10 to 15 cm wide and up to a 1 meter deep. This permits oxygenation of the soil to enough depths and the soil has extraordinary fertility.

Some of the main characteristics of black soil are;

  • Black soil clayey texture and are highly fertile.
  • The structure of these black soils is cloddish or occasionally friable.
  • Black soil rich in calcium carbonate, magnesium, potash, and lime but poor in nitrogen and phosphorous.
  • This soil is highly retentive of moisture, extremely compact and tenacious when wet.
  • Black soil is contractible and develops deep wide cracks on drying.
  • It is self-plowing and comparatively less fertile on the uplands than on the lowlands.
  • Black soil has high amounts of lime, iron, magnesium and normally low quantities of phosphorus, nitrogen and organic matter.
  • It is black as it is formed from weathered lava rocks.
  • It has up to 50% clay content and then it is highly retentive of water. Because of the high clay content, these soils expand when wet and become hard to plow through. During the dry season, these black soils shrink and develop big cracks which help in the circulation of air.
  • The black soil is extremely fertile in most of the places where it is found.

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Different categories of black soil

The black soils are grouped into the following four categories;

  • Black soils on calcareous basements
  • Black soils on non-calcareous basements
  • Black soils associated with recent river terraces
  • Black soils on deltaic and coastal alluvia

Black Soils refer to different soil types that have;

  • A well-structured, and dark-colored surface horizon due to their enrichment of high-quality humus down to a depth of more than 40 cm – mostly 60 to 80 cm;
  • A high base saturation (that is a high percentage of the cation exchange capacity is occupied by the basic cations Ca2+, Mg2+, and K+) and;
  • Also, moderate to the high content in organic matter.

The natural areas from which black soils developed are the prairies and steppes experience summer-dry and freezing conditions. The black color of the soil is mainly due to the presence of titaniferous magnetite. And also compounds of iron and aluminum, humus and colloidal hydrated double iron and aluminum silicate.

Problems and disadvantages of black Soil

Some of the disadvantages or problems of black soil can be given below;

  • The disadvantage of black soil is cracking when dry and swelling when wet then make difficult to manage unless they are cultivated at good soil moisture levels. This will makes black soil difficult to manage.
  • Optimum conditions for tillage happen instantly after harvesting when the surface soil is still moist.
  • The poor drainage system and waterlogging during rainfall.
  • Black soil has low fertility and poor in organic matter, nitrogen, available phosphorus, and zinc. The use of fertilizers and manures effects in increased crop yield.

That’s all folks about the crops suitable for black soil, balck soil benefits and disadvanatges. You may be interested in Powdery Mildew Symptoms and Control Methods.


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