Integrating farmers’ and scientists’ knowledge in participatory soil mapping

  • P N Macharia


Sustainable natural resources management, particularly soil management, requires integration of farmers', researchers' and other stakeholders' knowledge for enhanced rural development. A field study was conducted by an interdisciplinary team of scientists in Kasikeu sub-Location of Makueni District, Kenya, to assist in integrating farmers' and scientists' knowledge on soils in a participatory soil mapping. Gendersensitive farmer group meetings, on-site discussions, transect walks, soil profile descriptions and laboratory soil analyses were used for the study. Results showed that farmers in Kasikeu mainly used soil surface characteristics such as colour, texture and coarseness to classify soils. Scientists used the FAO/UNESCO Legend for the Soil Map of the World which emphasises the characteristics of subsoil. At farm level, farmers know in detail the soil types, uses and management of their soil while scientists acquire knowledge on soils in a short time through soil survey, testing and classification. The analytical and other scientific data complements farmers' knowledge on aspects that they cannot interpret. Women farmers have more detailed information on soils than men farmers since they are more involved in farming activities. The study showed that integration of indigenous knowledge provided by farmers and the scientific know-how and facilities provided by the scientists underscored the fact that farmers and scientists need each other. In this way, scientists will be in a better position to identify the most appropriate agricultural interventions for improving soil productivity.

How to Cite
Macharia, P. (2008). Integrating farmers’ and scientists’ knowledge in participatory soil mapping. East African Agricultural and Forestry Journal, 69(1&2), 10. Retrieved from