Increasing the relevance of scientific information in hillside environments through understanding of local soil management in a small watershed of the Colombian Andes uri icon

abstract

  • This article explores the question of how scientific information can improve local agronomic management using concepts of uncertainty classification and uncertainty management. Information and data on local management of soil fertility based on a local classification system of soil quality were collected from a small watershed in Cauca (Colombia). The analyses suggest that farmers hold local knowledge about soils at two levels. The first is based on empirical observations and refers to local knowledge about soils and landscape, which shows that the classes identified in the local soil quality classification are consistent with results obtained using measured soil parameters. At the second level, farmers have some awareness of ecological processes and the appropriate use of relationships between key soil characteristics and management options. It is argued that local knowledge is not sufficient to cope with uncertainty introduced by a rapidly changing agriculture, including, for example, increasing land pressure, unpredictable market forces and climate change. We have suggested how scientific knowledge can contribute to the solution, based on an analysis that relates Cohen's (Heuristic reasoning about uncertainty: an artificial intelligence approach. Pitman London, 1985) and Rowe's (Risk Analysis 14, 743-750, 1994) uncertainty concepts to local knowledge.

publication date

  • 2004
  • 2004