Integrating indigenous soil and land classification systems in the identification of soil management constraints in the tropics: A Kenyan case study
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Researchers gathered local knowledge on soil and land classification from farmers through group discussions and transect walks with both men and women farmers. Women identified more soil types than men, which corresponded to their increased diversity of activities. Farmers named soil types based on color, texture, coarseness, or a combination of these, and also described the soil by its stickiness, hardness, fertility, water retention capacity, drainage, erosion, cracking, and when to plow. The practical and multi-generational knowledge used by farmers on the tillage, management, erosion control, and agricultural productivity of soils can be used by soil scientists to save time and money. Participation in early stages of project development gives farmers a sense of ownership, and they are then very receptive to the top-down transfer of information from the soil scientists, who have shown that they are incorporating local knowledge into practices recommended for adoption. Farmers requested that soil scientists provide them with information regarding fertilizers, soil depth, porosity, and salinity. Farmers also asked that soil samples taken for analysis be sourced from the most commonly occurring soils, so as to provide maximum benefit to the community. Together, farmers and soil scientists decided that future projects would target organic and inorganic fertilizers, crop rotations and diversified farming systems, integrated nutrient management, water harvesting, and deep tillage.