SOILS AND MINERALS OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR
The region of Jammu and Kashmir has many types of soils. Generally soils are loamy and have little clay content in them. Soils are classified on the basis of area and from the agricultural point of view. In terms of minerals, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is not well developed. But minerals like coal, gypsum, sapphire, iron ore, Sulphur, gold, mica, etc are found here. Soils are complex mixtures of minerals, water, air, organic matter and countless organisms that are the decaying remains of once living things. It is regarded as the ‘skin of Earth’ which plays a very significant role in the growth of plants and the life on Earth.
Classification of Soils on the Basis of Area
Generally, the soils of Jammu and Kashmir are classified into eight groups These are given below:
- Brown Earth or Brown Forest Soil
- Degraded or Grey Brown Podzolic Soils
- Red and Yellow Podzolic Soils
- Hill or Mountain Forest Soils
- Mountain Meadow Soils
- Saline Alkali Soils
- Alluvial Soils
Brown Earth or Brown Forest Soils
These soils are mainly found in parts of Kathua, Udhampur,Doda, Poonch, Rajouri, Baramulla, and Anantnag districts of the state. The colour of these soils is dark brown. These soils are of silt loam to clay in texture and fine granular in structure. These soils contain organic carbon, nitrogen and calcium carbonate contents and also have some water holding capacity. It is ideally suited for safflower crop. But crops like,maize, wheat and fruits like cherry, pear and apple are grown in these soils.
Degraded or Grey Brown Podzolic Soils
These soils are found in parts of Bhaderwah, Poonch,Gulmarg, Ramnagar and Pahalgam regions of the state. These soils are grey to brown in colour. The texture of these soils are of loam to clay at surface and clay loam to clay at sub-surface level. These soils have fine granular well developed angular block structure. These are acidic in reaction.
Red and Yellow Podzolic Soils
These soils are mainly found in parts of Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts of the state. These soils are red to yellow in colour. These soils have coarse texture and its water holding capacity is of 40%.
Hill or Mountain Forest Soils
These soils are red or yellow in colour. These soils are sandy loam to loam in texture along with fine to weakly granular structure. These soils are moderately alkaline and calcareous (calcium carbonate content) in nature. These soils have some water holding capacity. Crops like coffee, tea, wheat, maize, barley, etc are grown in these soils.
Mountain Meadow Soils
These soils are mainly found in Gulmarg, Pahalgam,Gurez, Baramulla, Lolab, Sonamarg and Changthang regions. The texture of these soils are sandy loam to clay loam along with fine to coarse granular structure. These soils are alkaline in nature and have high organic carbon. These have high water holding capacity (51%-61%) as compared to other soils of the state.
These soils are mainly found on steep slopes in the foothills up to 400 m to 600 m height of Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch districts. These soils are gravelly loam to gravelly silty loam in texture. These soils are slightly alkaline in nature. The structure of these soils is coarse to weak granular. The soils have organic carbon content and low water holding capacity. Crops like rice, sugarcane and vegetable are grown in these soils.
Saline Alkali Soils
These soils are mainly found in alluvial belt of Jammu (Ranbir Singh Puran, Bishnah tehsils), Kathua (Ramkot Challain) and Changthang area of Ladakh region. Crops like sugarcane, mustard, rice,maize, redgram, green gram sunflower, lineseed, etc are grown in these soils.
These soils are found in plains of Kathua, Rajouri, Jammu, Poonch, Udhampur, Valley of Kashmir and Sind in Ladakh sub-divisions. These soils are reddish-brown in colour. These soils are divided into old and new alluvial soils.Old alluvial soil contains high amount of calcium carbonate and are slightly to moderately alkaline. Crops like wheat, rice, barley,maize, bajra, jowar, etc can be grown in these soils.
Classification of Soils on the Basis of Agriculture
The Kashmiri farmers on the basics of their emperical experience recognize different Glasses of soils. These are as follows
These soils are found near the banks of the Jhelum River. In the region of Wular,Manasbal and Anchar lakes, the rich peaty soil is found locally known as Nambal. These soils are dark brown to black in colour. These are soils high in organic matter content. In the years of normal rainfall and moderate snowfall, nambal soils give good yields of rape-seed,mustard,maize, oats, pulses and fodder.
These soils are found on the slopes of mountains and reclaimed from the forests. It is locally known as Tand soil. The colour of these soils in snowy area is white and in deserts is pale brown. These soils are mostly silty and clayey. These soils are rich in humus. These soils are slightly acidic and are fertile. These soils give good yields of maize, pulses and fodder.
These soils are formed when the land lose its fertility and develop alkaline formations due to excessive irrigation. These soils are also known as Zabelzamin. These soils have sodium carbonate content. These soils are unproductive from the agricultural point of view unless especially treated with gypsum, water and manures.
These soils are found mainly in Shopian, Budgam, Kulgam,Qazigund, Tangmarg, Gulmarg, Baramulla, Lethapora, Chandhara, Pampore, Bijbehara, Islamabad (Anantnag), Mattan, Tral and Ganderbal. The colour of these soils vary from light and red coloured soils to dark black soils. These soils are composed of silt and are poor in comparison to valley soils. The finer variety of Karewa soils are found in the central parts of the Kashmir valley. These soils are economically very important and used for growing commercial and cash crops like almond, apples, walnut, peaches, cherry, plum along with orchards and saffron beds. The Pampore karewa soil is famous for its saffron cultivation all over the world.
These soils are found in the flood plains of Jhelum in the Southern parts of Srinagar city and gets silt deposition every year. These soils are locally known as Gurti. The texture of these soils is clayey loam. These soils have high percentage of clay and silt. It has high water retaining capacity, thus in non-rainy seasons it can be used for cultivation. But during heavy rains, the soil gets compacted and achieves the shape of hard cakes due to which the ploughing becomes difficult.
These soils are found on the right bank of Jhelum above the level of flood plain. These soils are locally known as Bahil. These soils are dark brown to black in colour. It is a combination of loams, silt, clay and sand which has high humus content. Thus this soil is very fertile and ideal for paddy cultivation.Due to its natural high fertility, the soil does not require heavy manuring, but if it gets over manured it becomes too strong in which rice crop shows more vegetative growth.
Sandy Loam Soils
These soils are generally confined to the Sind valley in the North-West of Srinagar. These soils are locally known as Sekil. The soil has light loam and higher sand content.With artificial irrigation the soil provides good crops of rice in the summer season.
Sandy Silt Soils
These soils are mainly found in the low-lying areas near the swamps, but it sometimes occurs in the hilly areas also. These soils are locally known as Dazanlad. The soil shows a peculiar characteristic when the irrigation water stands in the fields it turns red in colour. The soil contains sand and clay and becomes more warm in the summer season. With controlled irrigation and use of high yielding variety, seeds, rice can be grown successfully in this soil.
Locally, there are few more soil types like Surhzamin (vegetable soil), Lemb (tracts served by a spring), Radh (floating garden soil), Kharzamin (Saline soil), Shath (sandy soil alongside rivers) and Tads (stoney and gravelly soil).
Soil Erosion in Jammu and Kashmir
As per the National Bureau of Soil Sciences and Landuse Planning (NBSS & LUP) Report, 32% land of the Jammu and Kashmir is affected by various soil degradational problems, out of which 78% area is under severe erosion. Average soil loss in the state per year is higher than the national average. The faulty land use, deforestation, over grazing of pasture lands, over exploitation of natural resources, construction of infrastructure/development activities has also increased the problems of soil erosion in the state. The heavy rains and subsequently similar situations result into large scale soil erosion in the shape of landslides, landslips and soil loss including loss of life and property in the entire state. Some places of soil erosion in the state include Glass Daji, Guespati, Manigah, Mori, Narikoot, Nagsari, Khurkhama, Satkoji, Kharbagh, etc.
Department of Soil and Water Conservation of Jammu and Kashmir
In order to conserve and manage the soil and water resources of the state, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir established the Department of Soil and Water Conservation of Jammu and Kashmir in 1978.
The important functions of the department are as follows:
. Conduct need based research for soil conservation and management.
. Formulate schemes based on soil conservation and management.
. Create awareness among people of the state about soil and water conservation with the help of appropriate communication technology.
. To monitor, evaluate and coordinate the soil conservation activities of departments like, Forest, Agriculture, Irrigation, etc.