Soil Types

Soil Types

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Looking at the horizons, we can see that several factors act in the formation of the soil. However, climate is the most important because a decomposed rock material may form different soils in regions with different climates.

The soils are classified into:

  • Zones: well developed, mature; any group of well-differentiated soils. They are the oxisols (hot and humid weather); podzol (temperate climate), purple Earth, etc.
  • Interzonal: Soils that relate to the local relief or its parent rock, that is, what gave it life through weathering. It's the soils saline (wetlands), lumps (presence of clay, which is the massape soil), etc.
  • Azonal: They don't have well-developed features yet. As they are new, they usually do not have the B horizon. They are not related to the climate of the region. They are the lithosols (very steep places), alluvial (from river sediments), etc.

Types of soils in Brazil

The Brazilian territory is formed by four different types of soils, they are:

Purple Earth

Arose from rocks of volcanic origin, the basalts. Despite being named, it has a reddish appearance. It is found in the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás, Mato Grosso and São Paulo, meaning that in the remote past, some of these areas housed volcanoes, which no longer exist.

Purple earth soil, important for agriculture


Soils that form from sediments (rock fragments) from elsewhere and carried by the action of water and wind. It is found in various areas of the Brazilian territory, in floodplain regions and near rivers and watercourses. Although not as fertile, they have a high agricultural potential.

Alluvial soil


Its characteristic is that of a darker, almost black, clayey and very fertile soil, located along the northeastern coast. It forms from the decomposition of limestone, gneiss and other rocks, and in the rainy months it becomes moist and viscous; even in the dry times, it gets tougher.

Massapé soil: present in the northeastern coast and excellent for agriculture


It is a soil originating from decomposition, especially granite. It is distributed in areas of the Midwest, Southeast and Southern Brazil. It is quite sandy and less fertile than the others, and has a certain level of acidity. However, with the right techniques, it can also be used in agriculture.

click to enlarge
Map of Soils of Brazil (scale 1: 5,000,000). Version using the new Brazilian Soil Classification System (SBCS, Embrapa 2006). Launched on 27/03/2012 in the city of Rio de Janeiro.


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