Indigenous Soil Classifications: What is their structure and function, and how do they compare to scientific soil classifications?

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Athens, GA: University of Georgia


Ettema explains that ethnopedology includes local understanding of soil properties, processes, classifications, management, and soil-plant relationships. Her work focuses on indigenous methods of classification and comparisons between local and scientific soil classifications. Only in the past 30 years has local knowledge gone from being considered "inferior" and "backwards" compared to western scientific knowledge, to now actually being respected as the untapped resource for rural development workers. Indigenous people possess a reservoir of knowledge on relevant natural resources, ecological processes, and management techniques that have sustained their agricultural practices and culture. This paper contends that linking local and western knowledge can promote research and development efforts by improving communication, which will promote sustainable development and improved soil management in rural areas.


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Sustainable development, Soil management, Indigenous community, Soil quality, Local knowledge, Adoption of innovations, Ethnopedology, Indigenous knowledge, Local knowledge, Soil classification, Comparison of western and indigenous knowledge, Farm/Enterprise Scale Field Scale