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Contrasting approaches to integrating indigenous knowledge about soils and scientific soil survey in East Africa and Bangladesh

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Robert Payton, Julian Barr, John Gowing


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Methodologies for collection and integration of scientific and indigenous soils knowledge are discussed in relation to two interdisciplinary projects involving soil scientists, other natural scientists and anthropologists. In Uganda and Tanzania, participatory methods paralleled scientific soil survey. Indigenous or ‘local’ soil classification was explored by a semi-structured, iterative discussion with farmers, resulting in classes that could be related to scientific taxa. However, the relation of farmers' cognitive soil maps to scientific soil maps in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS), developed as an integration domain, was problematic. In-depth analysis was only achieved through geo-referencing local knowledge (LK) using global positioning system (GPS). In Bangladesh, ethnographic methods obtained local soils knowledge and its socio-cultural context, and accompanied scientific surveys of floodplain soils and agroecosystems. Subsequent data processing included database and GIS tools, but there were problems systematically relating the two knowledge bases. The sequencing of, and iteration between, methods used to access and analyse geo-referenced scientific and local soils knowledge are critical considerations in such research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Barr JJF; Payton RW; Gowing JW; Martin A; Sillitoe P; Deckers JF; Hatibu N; Naseem SB; Tenywa M; Zuberi MI

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoderma

Year: 2003

Volume: 111

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 355-386

ISSN (print): 0016-7061

ISSN (electronic): 1872-6259

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/S0016-7061(02)00272-0


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