FIELD IDENTIFICATION OF SOIL SERIES: INDEXING AND RETRIEVING SOIL INFORMATION WHILE SHARING EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE


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Abstract

Soil information has been a ubiquitous requirement for decision aids that provide site-specific information. The introduction and development of decision aids as tools to help develop recommendations and prescriptions for soil management have called further attention to the importance of soil information. To be able to identify soils in the field became particularly useful with the development of a site-specific nutrient management decision aid. A simplified visual and field-oriented decision tree was developed to identify the major maize soil series. The system was valuable as a way to index and retrieve soil information for a decision aid designed to determine how much nutrient and fertilizer would be needed to restore nutrient sufficiency in upland soils planted to maize (SimCorn). This system to field-identify already mapped soil series was easily learned by farmers and was taught to other farmers by farmer leaders. A validation study indicated that farmers using the system achieved 80% to 100% correct soil series identification. The soil series identification system permits semiliterate and illiterate people to compare, contrast, and exchange experiences with neighbors or farmers in adjacent provinces using soil series mapped by expert soil scientists. In effect, the procedure provides a language for farmers to access, share, and expand their experiential knowledge of soils and soil behavior, which leads to more informed management and empowers farmers and producers with new information and interest in a resource critical for their livelihood.

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