This paper discusses the terminology and approaches that surround research on local knowledge, which reveal important differences in the emphasis of research following anthropological, as opposed to natural science, traditions. Results from three case studies undertaken in Nepal, Ghana and Indonesia were used to illustrate key points about local knowledge concerned with soil classification, soil fertility and below-ground interactions. Local knowledge of soils can be useful in agricultural development through building on local practice, recognizing the sophistication of local knowledge and realizing its limitations. These aspects are cemented by the integrating principle of effective communication and empowerment. In addition, formal methods for knowledge acquisition, as well as exploration and use of local knowledge with regard to respect, ethics and intellectual property rights, are discussed.
In van Noordwijk, M., Cadisch, G. and Ong, C.K. (eds) Below-ground interactions in tropical Agroecosystems: Concepts and Models with Multiple Plant Components. CAB International, Wallingford, UK.