Ethnopedology: A worldwide view on the soil knowledge of local people

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Serving as an introduction to ethnopedology, this article is helpful to researchers desiring an overview of the discipline, which has evolved out of anthropology to include geography, soil science, agronomy, botany, and ecology, among others. Two figures are included which illustrate the scope and hybrid nature of ethnopedological studies, or EPS. The KCP model is also introduced, explaining the beliefs and symbolic associations (Kosmos), cognitive systems (Corpus) and methods of production (Praxis). Methodological approaches such as the ethnographic, comparative, and integrated approaches are explained and critiqued to help other researchers avoid the pitfalls of each. In the ethnographic approach, the EPS is not compared to scientific soil data as it is in the comparative approach, and thus more emphasis is placed on linguistic analysis and the local perspectives on land uses. Finally, the global spread of EPS is explained and regions that may have need for extended studies are identified. While much information is available for Mexico, Peru, Nigeria, India, and Nepal, there is a lack of data for east Asia and the Pacific.


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Local knowledge, Soil management, Soil, Soil quality, Ethnopedology, Local people, Local soil knowledge, Kcp model, Governance


Geoderma 111(3-4): 171-195