Moving beyond indigenous soil taxonomies: Local theories of soils for sustainable development

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With the widely held understanding that farmers hold a reservoir of soil and agricultural knowledge based on indigenous beliefs and perceptions, this article explains the importance of incorporating this knowledge into plans for sustainable development as opposed to merely a top-down transfer from scientists to farmers. Through interviews, the researchers have been able to demonstrate that farmers not only have complex systems for the identification of soil types, but are able to manage productive farmlands with understanding of concepts such as soil genesis and fertility. An important point is raised which explains how soil knowledge is not static, as is often perceived when reading research, but is constantly evolving as land uses and soil quality changes and farmer adapt their agricultural practices accordingly. The authors propose that collaboration and mutually helpful partnership is needed between farmers and scientists of development planners to ensure that all stakeholders' needs are met while improving sustainability.


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Local knowledge, Soil management, Sustainable development, Soil classification, Farmers' systems, Indigenous knowledge, Farm/Enterprise Scale


Geoderma 111(3-4): 403-424