Farmers’ soil knowledge, fertility management logic and its linkage with scientifically analyzed soil properties in southern Ethiopia
This article (PDF) in the journal Agriculture & Food Security investigates how farmers’ soil knowledge (FSK) relates to scientifically analyzed soil properties; and it explores the implemented soil management practices and crop performances in southern Ethiopia. A total of 789 farmers were included. Results show that farmers’ soil nomenclature is broad and often based on observation and crop responses. Most of the soil types identified by farmers’ are common over large area. Moreover, farmers’ soil types have also shown an association with scientific knowledge, signifying that their knowledge is relevant for site-specific soil management. Fertilizer use strategy of farmers’ differs with soil types and crops. They prefer to apply organic fertilizers on fertile soils, because important food security crops are grown on it. On poor fertility but input-responsive soil types where crops such as maize, beans and other annual crops are growing, farmers apply chemical fertilizers. Farmers noted better crop yield from fertile soils than from the others. When asked for reasons, farmers indicate that soils managed with organic materials are more conducive for crops than those managed with chemical fertilizers. It was found that farmers are not capable of identifying yield-limiting nutrients, implying FSK has to be complemented with scientific soil knowledge. Additionally, further investigation to systematically link both approaches is also suggested.