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• Concept of Soil
• Component of Soil
• Rocks
• Soil Minerals
• Soil Moisture tension, Field Capacity, Permanent Wilting Point
(PWP), Different types of water, Infiltration, Percolation,
Leaching, Seepage
• Previous years questions related to Soil Science
• Current affairs about the topic
• Particle and Bulk Density of soil
What is Soil?
• Three spheres, corresponding to the three states of matter (solid, liquid and gas)
constitute the earth. The solid zone is lithosphere, land which is covered by water
forming seas and oceans is the hydrosphere, the gaseous envelope over the
earth’s surface is the atmosphere.
• Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms
that together support life of plants.
• Sometimes terms which refer to branches of soil science, such as pedology
(formation, chemistry, morphology and classification of soil) and edaphology
(influence of soil on organisms, especially plants), are used as if synonymous
with soil science.
Concept of Land and Soil
• Land is broadly defined as total natural environment of the
areas of the earth not covered by water.
• In addition to soil, its attributes include all the living
organisms, the air and water bodies with in or on it and
rocks below.
• Solum which means floor or ground. A soil scientist call
soil, a geologist may call fragmented Rock And
Engineering may call earth and economic may call land.
• Soil geology it is a study of geological material from which
the soil is derived and its process of formation.
• Soil chemistry is the study of chemical components of the
soil their interaction with one another and the effect of
chemical environment of the soil
• Soil biology is the study of effect of plants animal and soil
microorganisms on the evolution chemical composition and
physical condition of the soil.
Component of Soil
• The rocks are generally composed of two or more minerals.
Petrology ( Greek, petra means rock, logos means science) deals
with science of rocks. It consists of:
i) Petrography which deals with description of rocks
ii) Petrogenesis which is the study of the origin of rocks.
Geologists have classified rocks into three major groups:
Igneseous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic.
Igneous Rocks (Latin ignis, means fire):
• The whole surface of the earth passed through a molten stage
and the first solid mineral was derived from this molten material
known as magma.
• Igneous rocks are formed by cooling and crystallization of
molten material-magma-on or beneath the surface of the earth.
• The examples are Granite, Syenite, Diorite, Gabbro, Dolerite
and Basalt.
Sedimentary Rocks
• Sediment is the material that settles on the bottom of something else,
usually a liquid. Thus sedimentary rocks are formed from sediments,
derived from the breaking down of pre-existing rocks. These are
composed of materials that have been worn down by wind, water, or ice and
deposited somewhere.
• Stratification is the most common feature of these rocks and as such these
are also termed as stratified rocks.
• e.g. Limestone, Dolomite, sandstone and shale
Metamorphic Rocks
• The word metamorphic means “change in form” and thus metamorphic
rocks are those which have undergone some chemical or physical change
from its original form.
• The change due to water is called Hydrometamorphism, due to heat is
Thermometamorphism and due to pressure is called
• The examples are basalt or shale, sandstone, shale, Marble
• A process of disintegration and decomposition of rocks and
minerals which are brought about by physical agents and chemical
processes, leading to the formation of Regolith (unconsolidated
residues of the weathering rock on the earth’s surface or above the
solid rocks).
• Weathering is the process of transformation of solid rocks into
parent material or Regolith.
• Weathering happens through three major ways, namely:
Physical Weathering
• This is the geological process when rocks get
fragmented into smaller particles, without changing the
chemical composition of the rocks. This primarily
happens due to fluctuating temperatures causing the
rocks to break apart.
Chemical Weathering
• This is the erosion of rocks and other surface materials caused
due to chemical reactions. The rocks react with substances in
the atmosphere, such as moisture, air, water etc. The resulting
substance has a different chemical composition than the rock
from which it formed. Hydration, Hydrolysis, Oxidation,
Carbonation and Reduction are the chemical processes
involved in chemical weathering.
Biological Weathering
• This is the process of disintegration of rocks due to
actions of living organisms (animals, plants, microbes
etc), like when a plant grows in a rock and its roots
exert pressure on the rock forcing in to break apart.
Even microbes produce organic material that causes
•The effects of weathering by wind
can be seen on this rock formation at
the Paria Canyon in Arizona, USA.
•Located in Victoria, Australia these
limestone pillars called the, “twelve
apostles” have been created by the action of
waves crashing against the limestone
• The effects of chemical weathering in particular
acid rain can be seen on this close up of this statues
face. The acid rain has reacted with the mineral
grain of the rock which has over time caused cavities
to form as well wearing away the definition of the
facial features.
Biological Weathering
Parent material
• It is the regolith or at least its upper portion.
May be defined as the unconsolidated and
more or less chemically weathered mineral
materials from which soil are developed.
• The soil formation is the process of two
consecutive stages.
1. The weathering of rock (R) into Regolith
2. The formation of true soil from Regolith
Fundamental Soil forming Processes
• Humification: Humification is the process of transformation of raw
organic matter into humus. It is extremely a complex process
involving various organisms.
• Eluviation: It is the mobilization and translocation of certain
minerals in the soil.
• Eluviation means washing out. It is the process of removal of
constituents in suspension or solution by the percolating water from
the upper to lower layers.
• Translocation depends upon relative mobility of elements and depth
of percolation.
• Illuviation: The process of deposition of soil materials
(removed from the eluvial horizon) in the lower layer (or
horizon of gains having the property of stabilizing
translocated clay materials) is termed as Illuviation.
• Horizonation: It is the process of differentiation of soil in
different horizons along the depth of the soil body. The
differentiation is due to the fundamental processes,
humification, eluviation and illuviation.
• Calcification: It is the process of precipitation and accumulation of calcium
carbonate (CaCO3 ) in some part of the profile.
• Decalcification: It is the reverse of calcification that is the process of removal
of CaCO3 or calcium ions from the soil by leaching
• Podzolization: It is a process of soil formation resulting in the formation of
Podzols and Podzolic soils.
• Laterization: Laterization is the process that removal of silica from soil
• Gleization: process of soil formation resulting in the development of a glei
(or gley horizon) in the lower part of the soil profile above the parent material
due to poor drainage condition (lack of oxygen) and where waterlogged
conditions prevail.
Soil Composition
• Minerals: A very important substance found in soil.
Minerals basically formed by the break down of large
rocks. Some of the most common minerals found in
soil are, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium,
Sulphur etc.
• Humus: Humus is the organic substances that are formed due
to decomposition of dead and decomposing plants and
animals. It lends the soil its fertility.
• Living Organisms: These are mostly microbes and other
organisms (such as worms, bacteria, fungi etc.) that live in
the soil and perform the decomposition of animals and plants
that gives the soil humus.
• Water and Air: Water and air form a part of the soil and
allow living organisms to perform their functions. They also
help in the process of photosynthesis.
Minerals in Soil
• Minerals are the largest component in the soil, making
up almost 40% to 45% of the total components. The
minerals in the soil are classified into two categories:
• Primary Minerals in soil
• Secondary Minerals in soil
• Primary Minerals in soil: These are minerals which have
not been chemically altered since deposition. They are
same or similar to their parent materials. Often these
materials are bigger in size and irregular in shape. These
primary minerals are usually found in sand and silt.
• Secondary Minerals in soil: These are minerals formed
as a result of weathering of Primary Minerals. Secondary
minerals are mainly found in fine silt or clay. The particle
size of these minerals is much smaller, due to the weathering
• These minerals have a large surface area that helps them
retain moisture.
Soil profile
• The vertical section of the
soil showing the various
layers from the surface to
the unaffected parent
material is known as a soil
• A soil profile contains three main horizons. They are named as horizon
A, horizon B and horizon C.
• The surface soil or that layer of soil at the top which is liable to
leaching and from which some soil constituents have been removed is
known as horizon A or the horizon of eluviation.
• The intermediate layer in which the materials leached from horizon A
have been redeposited is known as horizon B or the horizon of
• The parent material from which the soil is formed is known as horizon
Sub horizons
• O horizon - It is called as organic horizon. It is formed in the upper part of
the mineral soil, dominated by fresh or partly decomposed organic
• This horizon contains more than 30% organic matter if mineral fraction
has more than 50 % clay (or) more than 20 % organic matter if mineral
fraction has less clay.
• The organic horizons are commonly seen in forest areas and generally
absent in grassland, cultivated soils.
• R - Underlying consolidated bed rock and it may or may not be like the
parent rock from which the solum is formed.
Soil physical properties
Which one is not available to plants?
• Hygroscopic water
• Capillary water AFO-
• Gravitational water
• Both A and C
• Both A and C
• Gravitational <0.3 ATM or -1/3 bar
• Capillary Water:
• 0.3-31 ATM (0.3-15 ATM) or -1/3 to -31 bars
• Hygroscopic: >31 ATM or -10,000 bars
Soil moisture tension
• In saturated soils, water is held in the soil matrix under negative
pressure due to attraction of the soil matrix for water
• Instead of referring to this negative pressure the water is said to
be subjected to a tension exerted by the soil matrix
• The tension with which the water is held in unsaturated soil
is termed as soil-moisture tension, soil-moisture suction. It is
usually expressed in atmospheres, the average air pressure at sea
Forces on Soil Water
• Adhesion: The attraction of soil water to soil
• Cohesion: The attraction of water molecules to
other water molecules.
• Capillarity: A capillary is a very thin tube in
which a liquid can move against the force of
• Root zone (depth of soil penetrated by roots) soil provides
the storage reservoir which needs to be periodically
Classes and availability of soil water
• Gravitational water: Water moves freely in response to
• Capillary water: Water held by surface tension in the
pore spaces.
• Hygroscopic water: Water held tightly to the surface of
the grains by adsorption.
Field Capacity (FC)
• The water content of the soil when gravitational water has been
• It represents the upper limit of available soil water range
• It is determined two days after an irrigation or thorough
wetting. Limitations are: restricting layers, high water table,
surface evaporation, consumptive use by crops
Permanent Wilting Point (PWP)

• The moisture content at which plants permanently wilt

• Wilting depends on the rate of water use, depth of root
zone and water holding capacity of soil
• It is the lower end of available moisture range
• Ultimate wilting point is when plant is completely wilted
and dies.
Available Water (AW)
• The difference of water content of the soil between field capacity and permanent
wilting point AW = FC – PWP
• It represents the moisture which can be stored in the soil for subsequent use by plants
• The moisture near the wilting point is not readily available to the plant. The portion of
the available moisture which is most easily extracted by plants is termed as readily
available moisture.
• Irrigation water should be supplied as soon as the moisture falls upto optimum level.
The optimum level represents the maximum deficiency upto which the soil moisture
may be allowed without any fall in crop yields.
• The amount of irrigation should be just enough to bring the moisture content upto its
field capacity making allowance for application losses
Previous year question from
Soil Science
Highest Alkaline problematic soil is in
which state?
• Haryana
• Gujrat
• Madhya Pradesh
• Tamil Nadu 2018
• Andhra Pradesh
• Gujrat
What is the EC of Saline Soil?
• <4
• >4 AFO-
• >15 2018
• <15
• None of these
• >4
What is the pH of Alkaline soil?
• 5.5
• 7.5
• 8.2 AFO-
• 8.5 2018
• 8.5
What is the ESP of Saline Soil
• <15
• >15 AFO-
• >4 2018
• <4
• None of these
• <15
Parameters of different problematic soils
Parameters Saline soil Alkaline soil Saline alkali
pH <8.5 > 8.5 > 8.5

EC (ds/m) >4 <4 >4

ESP <15 > 15 > 15

Which among the following state has
highest alkaline soil?
• UP
• Gujarat
• Punjab
• West Bengal
• Odisha
• UP
What is the pH of acidic soil?
• Less than 5.5
•8 AFO-
• 11 2019
• 12
• Less than 5.5
In which type of tillage 15-30% residue
left on the soil surface
• Convectional tillage
• Ridge tillage AFO-
• Mulch tillage 2019
• Reduce tillage
• No till
• Reduce tillage
What is the nitrogen content in can fertilizer
• 25
• 28
• 20.6 AFO-
• 30 2019
• 22
• 25
Horticulture nursery soil should be well drained,
Which of the following type of soil is not suitable for
• Silt loam soil
• Black cotton soil
• Sandy loam soil
• Clay loam soil
• Loamy soil
• Black cotton soil
SAR is used to assess the alkali related hazards of
the water. Which of the following SAR range is
termed as SAR class S2?
• Less than 10
• 11-18
• 19-26 RRB-
• Greater than 26 2019
• None of the above
Various fertilizers are applied to provide plant nutrient.
What is the Nitrogent percentage in Ammonium Sulphate?

• 32%
• 25%
• 20.6% RRB-
• 28% 2019
• 46%
A sandy soil contain?
• 100% of sand particle
• 85% of sand particle
• More than 60% of sand particle
• Less than 60% of sand particle
• More than 60% of sand particle
Soil structure refers to?
• Geometry of soil particle
• Size of soil particle
• Photograph of soil particle
• Arrangement of soil particle 2018
• Arrangement of soil particle
Which of the following does not influence
the soil structure:
• Adsorbed cation
• Organic matter
• Soil micro-organism NSC-
• Base exchange 2018
• Base exchange
Water requirement of crops is the amount
of water needed for:
• Evaporation and transpiration of water from soil and crops
• Transpiration ratio of crops
• To meet the metabolic activities of crops 2018
• To meet consumptive use demand + Losses from field
including conveyance
• To meet consumptive use demand + Losses from field
including conveyance
Indicate the percentage of nitrogen in D. A. P
• 15
• 18
• 32 NSC-
• 46 2018
• 18
Consumptive use of water refers to?
• Evaporation (E)
• Transpiration (T)
• Evaporation (E) + Transpiration (T)
• ET + Metabolic needs
• Evaporation (E) + Transpiration (T)
Which among the following microorganism is
most important for soil quality?
• Bacteria
• Fungi BHU-
• Actinomycetes PET
• Algae
• Bacteria
Technology in which plants are grown without
soil is known as?
• Sand Culture
• Media Culture
• Hydroponics
• Biotechnology
• Hydroponics
What is the size of silt particle according to
ISSS system?
• 2 mm to 0.2 mm
• 0.002 mm to 0.02 mm
• 0.02 to 0.002 mm
• Less than 0.002 mm
• 0.002 mm to 0.02 mm
Soil separates Diameter (mm)
Clay < 0.002 mm
Silt 0.002 – 0.02 mm
Fine sand 0.02 – 0.2 mm
Coarse sand 0.2 – 2.0 mm
Gravel 2.0 – 75 mm
Cobble 75- 250 mm
Stone >250
Which among the following is a
metamorphic rock?
• Sandstone
• Dolomite
• Granite
• Gneiss
• Sandstone
Current affairs
about the topic
Soil Health Card(SHC) – A tool for
Agri revolution
•The scheme is made to issue ‘Soil card’ to
farmers which will carry crop-wise
recommendations of nutrients and fertilizers
required for the individual farms.
•This is aimed to help farmers to improve
productivity through judicious use of inputs.
• Scheme was launched in Feb 19, 2015
• Scheme will ensure the ideal NPK (nitrogen,
phosphorous, potassium) proportion (4:2:1).
• In 2011, the ratio was 19.2:5.5:1 and 20.6:6:1
respectively in Punjab and Haryana.
• The ‘Soil Health Card’ would carry crop-wise
recommendations of nutrients / fertilizers required
for farms.
• ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science is located at:
• Bhopal
• ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal Develops
‘Mridaparikshak’, a Minilab for Soil Testing
• Mridaparikshak is a digital mobile quantitative
minilab/soil test kit to provide soil testing service at
farmers’ doorsteps.
• It was launched by a team of scientists of ICAR-IISS,
Bhopal in collaboration with Nagarjuna Agrochemicals
Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad to meet the need for having a quick,
Rubber Soil Information System (RubSIS) for
Rubber Growers
• It’s an online system for recommending application of appropriate
mix of fertilizers to the specific plantations of rubber growers
depending upon their soil nature.
• RubSIS, developed by Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII),
• Kottayam, Kerala
• RRII in collaboration with three agencies viz Indian Institute of
Information Technology and Management, Kerala, National
Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, ICAR and National
Remote Sensing Center, ISRO
Important Facts
Nutrient Low Medium High
Organic carbon < 0.5 % 0.5 – 0.75% > 0.75%

Available nitrogen ( N) < 240Kg/ha 240- 480kg/ha > 480Kg/ha

Available Phosphorus (P) < 11.0 Kg/ha 11 – 22 Kg/ha > 22 Kg/ha

Available potassium ( K) < 110Kg/ha 110-280Kg/ha > 280Kg/ha

Nutrient Chart for Soil

Parameters of different problematic
Paramete Saline soil Alkaline Saline
rs soil alkali soil
pH <8.5 > 8.5 > 8.5

EC (ds/m) >4 <4 >4

ESP <15 > 15 > 15

• Density represents weight (mass) per unit volume of a
• Density = Mass / Volume
• Soil density is expressed in two well accepted concepts as
particle density and bulk density. In the metric system,
particle density can be expressed in terms of y(Mg/m3). Thus if
1 m3 of soil solids weighs 2.6 Mg, the particle density is 2.6
Mg / m3
Particle Density

• The weight per unit volume of the solid portion of

soil is called particle density. Generally particle
density of normal soils is 2.65 grams per cubic
• Particle density is also termed as true density
Bulk density = Oven dry soil weight / volume of soil
solids and pores

• Bulk density of mineral soils commonly ranges from

1.1 to 1.5 g/cm3 in surface horizons. It increases
with depth and tends to be high in sands.
• Porosity is that portion of the soil volume occupied
by pore spaces.