Quantitative and predictive scientific understanding about complex agroecosystems such as traditional agroforestry practices remains sparse. In contrast, farmers, development professionals and others have a qualitative understanding about the systems they have experience of which may be a useful resource in complementing scientific knowledge. Participatory research approaches help to capitalise on this complementarity. However, explicit methods for recording qualitative knowledge from these various sources are required for the basis of this complementarity to be rigorously investigated. This paper reports on the development of a methodology to achieve this, designed specifically with reference to indigenous ecological knowledge about agroforestry, but of wider applicability. Principles and requirements for such representation are discussed and an approach based on organising statements written in ‘natural language’ is described.
Sinclair, F.L.; Walker, D.H. Acquiring qualitative knowledge about complex agroecosystems. Part 1: Representation as natural language. Agricultural Systems (1998) 56 (3) 341-363. [DOI: 10.1016/S0308-521X(97)00048-6]