A participatory study involving farmers, extension staff and SWMRG researchers was conducted to identify the local indicators of soil fertility and quality in Project R8115 target areas. The local indicators of soil fertility and quality were divided into three categories namely soil characteristics, types of plants and extent of growth and survival of plants during the dry season and crop yields. Local indicators of soil fertility (LISF) both in Western Pare Lowlands (WPLL) and Maswa district are based on seven main parameters. The soil characteristics included soil colour, soil depth, and appearances of cracks in the soils during the dry season and rocks out crops. Through the interpretation of the data the local indicators were all related to the technical attributes of soil fertility, that is the chemical, biological and physical characteristic and properties of the soils. The physical, chemical, and biological attributes of soil fertility influence the contents and availability of plant nutrients and soil moisture. The local indicators of soil fertility and quality are highly arbitrary, qualitative and comparative, with no established critical levels and standards as basis for comparisons. However, the local indicators assist in the initial stages of soil sampling and soil mapping and in the development of soil fertility management strategies. Despite the 800-kilometre distance between WPLL and Maswa, there is convergence in the type of parameters used and their interpretations.
Soil-Water Management Research Group (SWMRG). Local indicators of soil fertility (LISF) in Maswa and Same districts, Tanzania. (2003) 15 pp.