Implications of local soil knowledge for integrated soil management in Latin America
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The increasing attention paid to local soil knowledge in recent years is the result of a greater recognition that the knowledge of people who have been interacting with their soils for a long time can offer many insights about the sustainable management of tropical soils. This paper describes two approaches in the process of eliciting local information. Case studies show that there is a consistent rational basis to the use of local indicators of soil quality and their relation to improved soil management. The participatory process used is shown to have considerable potential in facilitating farmer consensus about which soil-related constraints should be tackled first. Consensus building is presented as an important step prior to collective action by farming communities in integrated soil management at the landscape scale. Taking advantage of the complementary nature of local and scientific knowledge is highlighted as an overall strategy for sustainable soil management.