Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for most people in hillside areas of Nepal, and soil fertility is largely maintained through the use of organic manure. This chapter states that both indigenous knowledge of farmers and their criteria were as useful as scientific evaluation in assessing soil fertility improvements, and that farmers knowledge and criteria should be considered when monitoring soil fertility and crop productivity in farmer trials.
Discussions with farmers indicated five principal soil fertility management practices (manure, chemical fertiliser, compost based on leaf litters, growing legume crops, and in-situ manuring). Farmers identified five soil productivity indicators (crop productivity, soil characteristics (particularly soil colour), management requirement, species of weeds, diseases, and pests, and termites). Historical trends (increasing crop intensification, decreasing livestock numbers, increasing use of chemical fertilisers, reduced labour availability, and change in the climate over the last 30-40 years) showed a decline in soil productivity. Scored causal diagrams on soil fertility drawn from focus group discussions indicated that the primary causes of declining soil fertility and crop productivity are a decrease in available manure, increased cropping intensity, low use of chemical fertilisers, and change in climate.
Tripathi, B.P. and Ellis-Jones, J. 2005. The use of biophysical and socioeconomic tools in soil fertility and organic matter. pp 179-190 (Chapter 13) in Stocking, M., Helleman, H. and White, R (eds). Renewable natural resources management for mountain communities. Kathmandu, Nepal: ICIMOD.