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Not all places in the world have rich soils, but, in this article, we are bringing you only places with the richest soils in the world.
Places with the richest soil in the world are Eurasian Steppe; Mesopotamia; from Manitoba, Canada, as far south as Kansas; the central valley of California; Oxnard plain and the Los Angeles basin; Pampas lowlands of Argentina and Uruguay.
Soil fertility refers to the ability of soil to sustain agricultural plant growth, i.e. to provide plant habitat and result in sustained and consistent yields of high quality. Fertile soil has the following properties:
- The ability to supply essential plant nutrients and water in adequate amounts and proportions for plant growth and reproduction; and
- The absence of toxic substances which may inhibit plant growth.
The following properties contribute to soil fertility in most situations:
- Sufficient soil depth for adequate root growth and water retention;
- Good internal drainage, allowing sufficient aeration for optimal root growth (although some plants, such as rice, tolerate waterlogging);
- Topsoil with sufficient soil organic matter for healthy soil structure and soil moisture retention;
- Soil pH in the range 5.5 to 7.0 (suitable for most plants but some prefer or tolerate more acid or alkaline conditions);
- Adequate concentrations of essential plant nutrients in plant-available forms;
- Presence of a range of microorganisms that support plant growth.
In lands used for agriculture and other human activities, maintenance of soil fertility typically requires the use of soil conservation practices. This is because soil erosion and other forms of soil degradation generally result in a decline in quality with respect to one or more of the aspects indicated above.
Places with the richest soil in the world
There are a number of places in the world with very rich topsoil. The characteristic that most of the richest soils share is that they were formed under grasslands.
The soils tend to be high in humus, phosphorus (and related phosphoric acids), and ammonia (nitrogen source). They usually have a high water-holding capacity.
Eurasian Steppe – Chernozem
Chernozem is a black-colored soil containing a high percentage of humus (4% to 16%) and high percentages of phosphoric acids, phosphorus, and ammonia.
Chernozem is very fertile and can produce high agricultural yields with its high moisture storage capacity.
Chernozems cover about 230 million hectares of land. There are two “chernozem belts” in the world.
One is the Eurasian steppe which extends from eastern Croatia (Slavonia), along the Danube (northern Serbia, northern Bulgaria (Danubian Plain), southern Romania (Wallachian Plain) and Moldova) to northeast Ukraine across the Central Black Earth Region of Central Russia, southern Russia into Siberia.
The other stretches from the Canadian Prairies in Manitoba through the Great Plains of the US as far south as Kansas. Similar soil types occur in Texas and Hungary. Chernozem layer thickness may vary widely, from several centimeters up to 1.5 meters (60 inches) in Ukraine, as well as the Red River Valley region in the Northern US and Canada (location of the prehistoric Lake Agassiz).
The terrain can also be found in small quantities elsewhere (for example, on 1% of Poland). It also exists in Northeast China, near Harbin. The only true chernozem in Australia is located around Nimmitabel, with some of the richest soils in the nation.
Previously, there was a black market for the soil in Ukraine, where it is known as chornozem. The sale of agricultural land has been illegal in Ukraine since 1992 until the ban was lifted in 2020, but the soil, transported by truck, was able to be sold and bought.
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.
It is rich in nutrients, although the climate is somewhat arid, and the soils are not very deep. This area provided the cereal crops (wheat, rye, barley) that have fed the world.
Central Valley (California)
The Central Valley is a flat valley that dominates the interior of California. It is 40 to 60 miles (60 to 100 km) wide and stretches approximately 450 miles (720 km) from north-northwest to south-southeast, inland from and parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast.
It covers approximately 18,000 square miles (47,000 km2), about 11% of California’s total land area (or about the size of the Dominican Republic). The valley is bounded by the Coast Ranges to the west and the Sierra Nevada to the east.
It is California’s single most productive agricultural region and one of the most productive in the world, providing more than half of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in the United States.
More than 7 million acres (28,000 km2) of the valley are irrigated via an extensive system of reservoirs and canals. The valley also has many major cities, including the state capital Sacramento; as well as Chico, Redding, Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield.
The Oxnard Plain is a large coastal plain in southwest Ventura County, California, the United States surrounded by the mountains of the Transverse Ranges.
The cities of Oxnard, Camarillo, Port Hueneme, and much of Ventura as well as the unincorporated communities of Hollywood Beach, El Rio, Saticoy, Silver Strand Beach, and Somis lie within the over 200-square-mile alluvial plain (520 km2).
The population within the plain comprises a majority of the western half of the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura Metro Area and includes the largest city along the Central Coast of California. The 16.5-mile-long coastline (26.6 km) is among the longest stretches of continuous, linear beaches in the state.
The high-quality soils, adequate water supply, favorable climate, long growing season, and level topography are characteristic of the Oxnard Plain where the top cash crops are strawberries, raspberries, nursery stock, and celery.
Ventura County is one of the principal agricultural counties in the state and it is a significant component of the economy with a total annual crop value in the county of over $1.8 billion in 2014. There is strong public sentiment for retaining agricultural production, as reflected in the SOAR (Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources) initiatives that have been approved by voters.
Los Angeles Basin
The Los Angeles Basin is a sedimentary basin located in southern California, in a region known as the Peninsular Ranges.
The basin is also connected to an anomalous group of east-west trending chains of mountains collectively known as the California Transverse Ranges.
The present basin is a coastal lowland area, whose floor is marked by elongate low ridges and groups of hills that is located on the edge of the Pacific Plate.
The Los Angeles Basin, along with the Santa Barbara Channel, the Ventura Basin, the San Fernando Valley, and the San Gabriel Basin, lies within the greater Southern California region.
On the north, northeast, and east, the lowland basin is bound by the Santa Monica Mountains and Puente, Elysian, and Repetto hills. To the southeast, the basin is bordered by the Santa Ana Mountains and the San Joaquin Hills.
The western boundary of the basin is marked by the Continental Borderland and is part of the onshore portion. The California borderland is characterized by northwest-trending offshore ridges and basins.
The Los Angeles Basin is notable for its great structural relief and complexity in relation to its geologic youth and small size for its prolific oil production.
Pampas lowlands of Argentina and Uruguay
The Pampas are fertile South American lowlands that cover more than 1,200,000 km2 (463,322 msq) and include the Argentine provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos and Córdoba; all of Uruguay; and Brazil‘s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul.
The vast plains are a natural region, interrupted only by the low Ventana and Tandil hills, near Bahía Blanca and Tandil (Argentina), with a height of 1,300 m (4,265 ft) and 500 m (1,640 ft), respectively.
The climate is temperate, with precipitation of 600 to 1,200 mm (23.6 to 47.2 in) that is more or less evenly distributed throughout the year, making the soils appropriate for agriculture. The area is also one of the distinct physiography provinces of the larger Paraná-Paraguay Plain division.