Land management: combining modern science with farmer knowledge

February 12, 2012 at 7:30 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Land suitability analysis becomes more accurate when farmer knowledge and practices are factored in

A new study by ICARDA researchers shows how suitability analysis (which helps identify the best land-use option for a particular field or area) can be made more accurate and more useful by combining modern analytical methods with indigenous farmer knowledge.

The study, conducted in low-rainfall areas in Jordan, assessed the suitability of land for different uses:  traditional rangeland (for grazing), improved rangeland, rainfed barley, drip-irrigated vegetables and drip-irrigated trees. In many cases, actual land use practices were different from those suggested by potential land suitability – mainly because farmers were  using specific management practices to overcome land-use limitations.

Accordingly, the researchers modified the standard analytical procedures (which measure suitability based on natural biophysical factors) to reflect actual land use and the benefits of improved land management. With this modification, the land evaluation became more accurate and potentially more useful. For example, the ‘highly suitable’ areas for drip-irrigated vegetables and drip-irrigated trees increased by 18% and 25% respectively. This new approach could potentially be applied in many countries, to improve the land evaluation process, and enable farmers to better utilize limited land resources in fragile environments.

The study, by researchers Feras Ziadat and Kais Sultan, is reported in the online journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

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