Soil and Vegetation of Maharashtra

The geographical features of Maharashtra, the third largest state in India can be divided into three natural regions; The Maharashtra plateau, the Sahyadri range and the Konkan coastal strip. The soil and vegetation of Maharashtra are related to the climate and the geology; although the dominant physical trait of the state is its plateau character.

Many small plateaux and river valleys mark the Deccan plateau region as rivers Narmada, Krishna, Godavari, Wardha, Tapi carve valleys in between intervening highlands. The soil in the semi dry Deccan plateau is mostly black basalt soil. This type of soil is clayey, retains moisture and is rich in humus. The soil is commonly known as 'black cotton soil' or 'regur' because it is best suited for the cultivation of cotton.

The volcanic action almost 60 to 90 million years ago; which had taken place in the Deccan region has given rise to the soil texture and composition. These igneous rocks break down to form black soil which is very fertile. It is better suited for rabi crops.

The Wardha - Waliganga river valley has old crystalline rocks and saline soil making the region infertile.

This type of soil has a natural resistance to wind and water erosion because it is rich in iron and is granular in structure. A very important advantage of this type of soil is that it can retain moisture. This makes the soil very reactive to irrigation.

The hilly high lying terrain has pather soil, containing more gravel. This Laterite, reddish brown soil is productive under forest cover and also is well suited for rainfed crops - rice, ragi, jowar, gram, groundnut, sugarcane etc. Mango, Cashew, Jackfruit, Jamun are also grown here.

Sahyadri hills also called the Western Ghats run parallel to the sea coast and have many offshoots branching towards the east. Most of the rivers in Maharashtra originate from the Sahyadris. The soil on the slopes of Sahyadris differs from reddish brown to black and is rich in nitrogen. The hills fall down in steps before forming the 'tableland', and this transitional area is called the 'Mawal'. This region is dominated by vegetables like potato, onion, chillies, brinjal and tomatoes along with Kharif cereals, sugarcane and groundnuts. Mango, banana, guava, grapes and cashew are also grown.

On wider strips, where the topography is plain, the soil is greyish black and moderately alkaline in nature, well drained and good for irrigation. Predominantly suited for kharif and rabi - jowar, wheat, bajra, groundnuts, urad etc.

The Coastal Konkan area is a 50 km wide belt between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri. It is not a totally plain area; instead the lowland plateau is highly dissected with steep valleys.

The vegetation mainly consists of forests in the eastern region and the Sahyadri Ranges,the Satpura Ranges and the Chandrapur region. Shrub jungles pre-dominate the plateaux. The coastal region of the Konkan Coast has paddy fields as the vegetation. The coastal belt consists of eminent trees like the mango and the coconut and shrubs.

The forests have a very high value because they yield teak, bamboo, myrobalan etc. the vegetation is rich in areas which have a good annual rainfall. Thick evergreen deciduous forests cover 17% of the land of Maharashtra.

Last Updated on : January 6, 2018