9. Traditional knowledge about the use of soils in the Solomon Islands.
In: Proc. of a IBSRAM Workshop "Soil Management and Smallholder Development in the Pacific Islands"; IBSRAM Proc. No. 8; 1989, pp. 225-231
This case study was conducted to gather information from local people about their knowledge of the soils they use, particularly with regard to the use of different soil types which are classified in their own languages. Some of the things investigated in this study are the local classification of the soils, and the people's views on the use of the soil.
The investigation was conducted on a questionnaire/interview basis. The questionnaire was used as a guide during discussions with the local people. During the discussion session, the interviewer recorded all the necessary information the farmer put forward. Following the interview, a personal soil data sheet was used to record features of the identified soil types as additional information.
Agricultural production in the Solomon Islands has been developed independently by Solomon Islanders over thousands of years. They fish, forage, hunt, and cultivate for their own livelihood. Over the years of continuous shifting cultivation, each tribe or language group in the Solomon Islands has identified different soil types which suit a certain crop.
This case study shows five different soil types which are classified using the traditional system. The local classification system is based mainly on the soil colour and texture, as the local names imply.
The five different soil types identified have different crop suitability. Most of the crops grown are the traditional root crops, which include yam, taro and sweet potato, tree crops (such as coconut), and others like banana and sugarcane. This does not mean that only the crops listed under each soil type are suitable for that particular soil type. Other crops may be suitable, but the people themselves have not tried them out. That is why introducing a new crop cannot be easily accepted by the farmers, since they may think it will not perform well on a particular soil type.
This way of thinking among local people highlights the need for recorded information on traditional soil knowledge so that a better land-utilization programme can be organized. It is important that there should be a two-way system of soil information transfer between both the local farmers and modern agriculturalists, which is one way in which agricultural development may be speeded up especially at the smallholder level.
This will be possible if more organized land-use planning and land-suitability assessments are undertaken.
A close liaison between traditional knowledge and modern knowledge is required in order to make the best use of the land.
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