Friday, 14 July 2006 - 4:00 PM

Use of Ethnopedology in Soil Surveys.

Joseph Tabor, Univ of Arizona, Office of Arid Lands Studies, 1955 E 8th St, Tucson, AZ 85719

Experiences and examples will be presented that demonstrate the difficulties and value of applying ethnopedology in soil surveys. Local knowledge about soil and landscape types is limited by the relative importance of individual soils in a community. A further limitation is that classifications assign to the soils by communities may only be locally valid. Collecting and interpreting local knowledge from communities can be problematic because of the variable quality of knowledge between members of a community and the skill of interviewers. Thus the assurance of accuracy, precision, and consistency for capturing indigenous knowledge becomes a cost-benefit issue. One of the biggest benefits of including ethnopedology in conventional soil survey methods is that it provides a common means for talking about soils between locals and outsiders. Using this approach can speed the establishment of a more useful soil mapping and classification legend that simplifies the complexity and continuum of the landscape on criteria that are relevant to the soils that local population are managing. By applying an ethnopedological approach soil scientists can better translate and correlate different perceptions of the soil and its management. This helps the soil scientist identify management opportunities for neglected soils with higher production potential and also assures locally important soils are considered. This latter point is important when revising scientific classification systems for regions of the world with limited scientific based soil knowledge.Key words: Reduced costs, increased accuracy, and increased effectiveness of natural resource inventories, monitoring, and interventions can be achieved by including an ethnopedological approach to soil surveys.

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