Why do laterite soils have low fertility?

The laterite soil is formed under high-temperature conditions and heavy rainfall with alternate wet and dry periods, which leads to leaching of soil, leaving only oxides of iron and aluminium. As a result, it lacks fertility due to a lower base-exchanging capacity and a lower nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content.

Laterite soil

Laterite is a soil and rock type rich in iron and aluminium and is commonly considered to have formed in hot and wet tropical areas. Nearly all laterites are of rusty-red colouration because of high iron oxide content. They develop by intensive and long-lasting weathering of the underlying parent rock.

  • Laterite soil is reddish to yellow in colour with a lower potassium content, phosphorus, nitrogen, lime, and magnesia with 90 to 100% of aluminium, iron, titanium, & manganese oxides.
  • This is one of the soils rich in vital nutrients and is widely used.
  • The soil is an important source of building material because it can be efficiently cut with a spade but hardens like iron when exposed to air.


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