Indigenous Soil Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture – Springer

Chapter 3


Indigenous soil knowledge, a foundation of traditional farming systems, plays an important role in developing agricultural and environmental sustainability, especially in developing countries where most farmers have limited access to soil analysis and extension services. Recently, indigenous soil knowledge has been recognized as a vital source for most scientists to be used to change and improve natural resource management without neglecting the social and cultural values of the local environment. However, the transfer of the knowledge from generation to generation, farmer to farmer, farmers to scientists, and scientists to farmers is critical for a better understanding of soil processes, which is a major part in developing sustainable agriculture. This chapter reviews indigenous soil knowledge and its application and how scientists respond to the value of indigenous soil knowledge and integrating it into agricultural activities. Case studies from various countries in Africa, America, Asia, and Europe revealed that there is a diversity of local or traditional knowledge and practices in soil management. These include plant species selection, landscape management, succession or fallow management, ways to observe soil degradation, and practices of responding to ecological problems in soils (i.e., fertility, acidity, erosion, biodiversity). Farmers’ experiences illustrate the benefits of using indigenous soil knowledge and the incorporation of it into scientific soil knowledge to nurture and conserve natural resources. Combining both of the knowledge seems to be the best approach to support sustainable farming systems grounded in local environments and cultural values. For future, a more complete understanding of soil processes needs to be developed, not only based on local observations, but also in terms of philosophies and methodologies of transferring the knowledge. Farmers should be familiar with soil process concepts from both knowledge to achieve better and more sustainable relationship with their land, and to respond to the global opportunities and challenges.


Farming system, indigenous soil knowledge, scientific soil knowledge, soil characteristics, soil degradation, soil restoration, sustainable agriculture, traditional soil knowledge,

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