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Explore local ecological knowledge to understand farmers’ behaviour in soil management in
Central Menabe, Madagascar
Céline Dillmann,
Swen Bos,
Justine Gay-des-
Combes,
Alexandre Buttler,
Claude Garcia
ATBC Montpellier
23 June 2016
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 2
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 3
Central Menabe – study area
(Ramohavelo et al, 2104)
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 4
Agriculture – main driver of deforestation
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 5
Cultivation cycle Forest
«Dead soil»
1. year
Fallow
2-3 years
Old fallow 20-30 years
30 years
mai
ze
Maize field
mai
ze
2.-3. year
Maize field
‘mok
a’
4.-6. year
Peanut field
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 6
Agrifeu – what about compost? Forest
«Dead soil»
1. year
Fallow
2-3 years
Old fallow 20-30 years
30 years
mai
ze
Maize field
mai
ze
2.-3. year
Maize field
‘mok
a’
4.-6. year
Peanut field
||
Explore local ecological knowledge to understand farmers’ behavior
in soil management
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 7
Objective
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 8
Local ecological knowledge – does it matter?
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 9
Local Ecological Knowledge
 ≠ traditional
 ≠ cultural or indigenous
 Empirical observations
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 10
Local ecological knowledge – how it works
Knowledge about soil fertility
and soil management
1 village
17 informants
40 interviews
38 hours
753 statements
552 formal terms
1 workshop
40 participants
Figure: Dixon, H., Doores, J., Joshi, L. & Sinclair, F. (2001). Agroecological knowledge toolkit for Windows: methodological guidelines,
computer software and manual for AKT5. School of Agriculture and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK.
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 11
Soil fertility
Soil fertility
Crop
appearance
Soil temperature &
humidity
Tilling Fertiliser
Burning
Yield Weeds
Fallowing Weeds
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 12
Soil fertility
Soil fertility
Crop
appearance
Soil temperature &
humidity
Tilling Fertiliser
Burning
Yield Weeds
Fallowing Weeds
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 13
Statements
173: soil fertility is high if the soil humidity is high
277: an increase in duration of field cultivation causes a decrease in soil fertility
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 14
Cultivation cycle Forest
Dead soil
1. year
Fallow
2-3 years
Old fallow 20-30 years
30 years
mai
ze
Maize field
mai
ze
2.-3. year
Maize field
‘mok
a’
4.-6. year
Peanut field
Yield +
Yield ++
Yield -
Weeds -
Weeds +
Weeds ++
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 15
Cultivation cycle Forest
Dead soil
1. year
Fallow
2-3 years
Old fallow 20-30 years
30 years
mai
ze
Maize field
mai
ze
2.-3. year
Maize field
‘mok
a’
4.-6. year
Peanut field
Yield +
Yield ++
Yield -
Weeds -
Weeds +
Weeds ++
||
 outcompete crops
 nasty to remove
 tilling more difficult
 burning  weeding easier
 few weeds on fresh field
 field age ↑, bad weeds ↑
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 16
the problem with weeds
||
 outcompete crops
 nasty to remove
 tilling more difficult
 burning  weeding easier
 few weeds on fresh field
 field age ↑, bad weeds ↑
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 17
the problem with weeds
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 18
Is compost the missing link?
Forest
Dead soil
1. year
Fallow
2-3 years
Old fallow 20-30 years
30 years
mai
ze
Maize field
mai
ze
2.-3. year
Maize field
‘mok
a’
4.-6. year
Peanut field
Yield +
Yield ++
Yield -
Weeds -
Weeds +
Weeds ++
?
||
If soil fertility is not the problem…
compost is not the solution!
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 19
||
If soil fertility is not the problem…
compost is not the solution!
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 20
Implementation not successful,
if solution does not address the right problem
If soil fertility is not the problem…
compost is not the solution!
|| 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 21
Combining local and scientific knowledge
Forest
Dead
soil
1. year
Fallow
2-3 years
Old fallow 20-30 years
30 years
mai
ze
Maize field
mai
ze
2.-3. year
Maize field
‘mok
a’
4.-6. year
Peanut field
Yield +
Yield ++
Yield -
Weeds -
Weeds +
Weeds ++
?
||
 understand system from farmers’
point of view
 identify important drivers in
decision-making process
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 22
Local knowledge – can help to…
http://blog.mindjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Business-Intelligence-Collaboration-The-Perfect-Pair.jpg
Local knowledge
Scientific understanding
||
Integration of local
needs, constraints and
aspirations
is essential for
successful
implementation
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 23
Contacts: celine.dillmann@gmx.net“S53: …Integrating human needs with
ecosystem conservation”
||
Ramohavelo, C., Sorg, J.-P., Buttler, A. & Reinhard, M. (2014). Recommandations pour une agriculture plus
écologique respectant les besoins socio-écono-miques locaux, région du Menabe Central, côte ouest de
Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation & Development, 9(1), 13-19.
23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 24
References

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ATBC 2016 - If soil fertility is not the problem, compost is not the solution

  • 1. Explore local ecological knowledge to understand farmers’ behaviour in soil management in Central Menabe, Madagascar Céline Dillmann, Swen Bos, Justine Gay-des- Combes, Alexandre Buttler, Claude Garcia ATBC Montpellier 23 June 2016
  • 2. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 2
  • 3. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 3 Central Menabe – study area (Ramohavelo et al, 2104)
  • 4. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 4 Agriculture – main driver of deforestation
  • 5. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 5 Cultivation cycle Forest «Dead soil» 1. year Fallow 2-3 years Old fallow 20-30 years 30 years mai ze Maize field mai ze 2.-3. year Maize field ‘mok a’ 4.-6. year Peanut field
  • 6. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 6 Agrifeu – what about compost? Forest «Dead soil» 1. year Fallow 2-3 years Old fallow 20-30 years 30 years mai ze Maize field mai ze 2.-3. year Maize field ‘mok a’ 4.-6. year Peanut field
  • 7. || Explore local ecological knowledge to understand farmers’ behavior in soil management 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 7 Objective
  • 8. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 8 Local ecological knowledge – does it matter?
  • 9. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 9 Local Ecological Knowledge  ≠ traditional  ≠ cultural or indigenous  Empirical observations
  • 10. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 10 Local ecological knowledge – how it works Knowledge about soil fertility and soil management 1 village 17 informants 40 interviews 38 hours 753 statements 552 formal terms 1 workshop 40 participants Figure: Dixon, H., Doores, J., Joshi, L. & Sinclair, F. (2001). Agroecological knowledge toolkit for Windows: methodological guidelines, computer software and manual for AKT5. School of Agriculture and Forest Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, UK.
  • 11. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 11 Soil fertility Soil fertility Crop appearance Soil temperature & humidity Tilling Fertiliser Burning Yield Weeds Fallowing Weeds
  • 12. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 12 Soil fertility Soil fertility Crop appearance Soil temperature & humidity Tilling Fertiliser Burning Yield Weeds Fallowing Weeds
  • 13. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 13 Statements 173: soil fertility is high if the soil humidity is high 277: an increase in duration of field cultivation causes a decrease in soil fertility
  • 14. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 14 Cultivation cycle Forest Dead soil 1. year Fallow 2-3 years Old fallow 20-30 years 30 years mai ze Maize field mai ze 2.-3. year Maize field ‘mok a’ 4.-6. year Peanut field Yield + Yield ++ Yield - Weeds - Weeds + Weeds ++
  • 15. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 15 Cultivation cycle Forest Dead soil 1. year Fallow 2-3 years Old fallow 20-30 years 30 years mai ze Maize field mai ze 2.-3. year Maize field ‘mok a’ 4.-6. year Peanut field Yield + Yield ++ Yield - Weeds - Weeds + Weeds ++
  • 16. ||  outcompete crops  nasty to remove  tilling more difficult  burning  weeding easier  few weeds on fresh field  field age ↑, bad weeds ↑ 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 16 the problem with weeds
  • 17. ||  outcompete crops  nasty to remove  tilling more difficult  burning  weeding easier  few weeds on fresh field  field age ↑, bad weeds ↑ 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 17 the problem with weeds
  • 18. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 18 Is compost the missing link? Forest Dead soil 1. year Fallow 2-3 years Old fallow 20-30 years 30 years mai ze Maize field mai ze 2.-3. year Maize field ‘mok a’ 4.-6. year Peanut field Yield + Yield ++ Yield - Weeds - Weeds + Weeds ++ ?
  • 19. || If soil fertility is not the problem… compost is not the solution! 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 19
  • 20. || If soil fertility is not the problem… compost is not the solution! 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 20 Implementation not successful, if solution does not address the right problem If soil fertility is not the problem… compost is not the solution!
  • 21. || 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 21 Combining local and scientific knowledge Forest Dead soil 1. year Fallow 2-3 years Old fallow 20-30 years 30 years mai ze Maize field mai ze 2.-3. year Maize field ‘mok a’ 4.-6. year Peanut field Yield + Yield ++ Yield - Weeds - Weeds + Weeds ++ ?
  • 22. ||  understand system from farmers’ point of view  identify important drivers in decision-making process 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 22 Local knowledge – can help to… http://blog.mindjet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Business-Intelligence-Collaboration-The-Perfect-Pair.jpg Local knowledge Scientific understanding
  • 23. || Integration of local needs, constraints and aspirations is essential for successful implementation 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 23 Contacts: celine.dillmann@gmx.net“S53: …Integrating human needs with ecosystem conservation”
  • 24. || Ramohavelo, C., Sorg, J.-P., Buttler, A. & Reinhard, M. (2014). Recommandations pour une agriculture plus écologique respectant les besoins socio-écono-miques locaux, région du Menabe Central, côte ouest de Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation & Development, 9(1), 13-19. 23 June 2016Céline Dillmann - Forest Management and Development (ForDev) 24 References

Editor's Notes

  1. Hi and welcome to this presentation. My name is Céline Dillmann and I have studied Environmental Sciences at ETH in Zürich. And for my master thesis I have worked with a research project, calles Agrifeu, in Madagascar and now I’d like to share with you…
  2. Now I’d like to share with you, what we have learnt from exploring the local ecological knowledge of the farmers in Central Menabe.
  3. So first of all, we were working in West Madagascar in the region of Central Menabe. The landscape is characterized by dry-decidious forest and slash-and-burn agriculture is the predominating cultivation technique in this area.
  4. No need to say that agriculture is the main driver of deforestation in Central Menabe and that substantial area of forest is lost each year. Here we see an old peanut field and a one year old maize field.
  5. So people gain new cultivation land from the forest, then for a couple of years the field is cultivated and at a certain point the field is left fallow and eventually turns into forest again. Well, the problem is that only after a few years the field has degraded and people leave the field and gain a new land from the forest. So the Agrifeu research project that I was working with had the idea that compost could increase the quality of the degraded soil and would maintain soil fertility and ensure longer cultivation on the same field or the re-cultivation of old fallow which is rarely happening at the moment. The underlying assumption was that the cycle of deforestation could be slowed down by that. Another thing we compiled is a representation of the cultivation cycle based on the farmers’ information. Well, here you see a representation of the cultivation cycle as I constructed it based on the farmers’ information. I’m not going to explain it in detail, but what we can see is that in the first year, we have lower yields than in the second year of cultivation. Farmers explain that due to the burning process when forest is transformed to a field and the resulting high soil temperatures. And then after a few years, the yield is decreasing.
  6. So here we see a simple representation of the cultivation cycle. So people gain new cultivation land from the forest, then for a couple of years the field is cultivated and at a certain point the field is left fallow and eventually turns into forest again. Well, the problem is that only after a few years the field has degraded and people leave the field and gain a new land from the forest. So the Agrifeu research project that I was working with had the idea that compost could increase the quality of the degraded soil and would maintain soil fertility and ensure longer cultivation on the same field or the re-cultivation of old fallow which is rarely happening at the moment. The underlying assumption was that the cycle of deforestation could be slowed down by that. ------------------------------ Another thing we compiled is a representation of the cultivation cycle based on the farmers’ information. Well, here you see a representation of the cultivation cycle as I constructed it based on the farmers’ information. I’m not going to explain it in detail, but what we can see is that in the first year, we have lower yields than in the second year of cultivation. Farmers explain that due to the burning process when forest is transformed to a field and the resulting high soil temperatures. And then after a few years, the yield is decreasing.
  7. So as part of this project, we wanted to include the local perspective and our objective was to explore local ecological knowledge to understand farmers’ behavior in soil management in the study area
  8. You might think why does it matter to specifically explore local ecological knowledge? Yet, various studies in the tropics but also in temperate climatic zones have shown that considering local knowledge is a well-approved way to involve the local population, particular in areas where the sustainability of the production system is a problem. It could be shown that the consideration of local knowledge allows to identify knowedge gaps on both the local and scientific side, and allows to account for local constraints and needs. So far, this has not been done in our study area.
  9. So when we talk about local ecological knowledge, we don’t mean traditional or indigeneous knowledge, but we are interested in the knowledge that comes from empirical observation. So an simple example to make the difference is that when in one year the crops yield is low, we are interested in explanations that rain was scarce in this year, or crops died because of insect attack, but we don’t want to hear that the neighbor has put a curse on the plants because he wanted to do ill to the farmer.
  10. So how does that approach work. I will not go into details. Basically, the knowledge is elicitated in semi-structured inteviews during the compliation phase. The particularity about this approach is that only few informants are interviews, but the same are interviewed several times. This allows to get more detailed explanatory knowledge. During the whole process, a computer-based knowledge base is developed that allows to evaluate and analyse the knowledge during the process and afterwards.
  11. So based on this huge amount of statements and information, we tried to synthesize this knowledge. The results that I’m going to present now is an aggregation of the information we got from all farmers. So from the discussions with the farmers, we got a picture of what farmers perceive to be relevant within their ecological system. We talked about soil fertility. - and how they assess the state of soil fertility. E.g. We talked about the causes and effects of soil fertility, so factors that have an influence on soil fertility and how. For instance. And then how soil fertility effects other factors such as. But of course this is just an extract, including all variables the picture would show much denser. So, with the farmers I talked about : Assess soil fertility Factors that influence soil fertility Burning Tilling Weeds Soil temperature Soil humidity Fallowing fertilisers What soil fertility itself influences Yield Weeds Crop appearance
  12. So when we come back to the cultivation cylce i showed in the beginning. What we can see on this cycle is that in the first year, we have lower yields than in the second year of cultivation. Farmers explain that due to the burning process when forest is transformed to a field and the resulting high soil temperatures. And then after a few years, the yield is decreasing.
  13. But what we can also see in this graph is that the the weeds apparently increase over the course of time.
  14. So what we found out is that although soil fertility is certainly part of the problem, the main limiting factor for farmers is weed management. Although weeds can also have a beneficial effect on the soil, farmers claim that weeds: are outcompeting crops, are nasty to remove, tilling is more difficult when there are a lot of weeds, weeds can also make the soil harder. They say that on a freshly cleared field less weeds are present and burnign makes subsequent weeding less demanding. Also, with an increase of field age, the bad weeds also increase in number. So, cultivation on a freshly cleared field is attractive.
  15. In this sense, there is the question, will farmers adopt compost as a new technology to ensure longer cultivation on the same field, as long as the dominating problem of weed management is unadressed? Our findings suggest that they will probably not.
  16. So actually the title of our this talk is: « if soil fertility is not the problem, compost is not the solution. In other words, although soil fertility certainly is a relevant factor in the system, it is not the most important one to the local population. And implementing alternative management strategies probably will not be successful, if they do not address what local actors perceive to be the central problem --- As a further step, the insights that we got from the local knowledge elicitation process now can be used for follow-up projects and make sure that these projects are taking into account the local perspective to find a solution. As a new working hypothesis we could formulate that finding ways to tackle the weed management problem and at the same time reducing soil fertility depletion, might reduce the need for new land from the forest. ------------ So to come back to the initial conclusion. Although soil fertility certainly is a relevant factor in the system, it is not the most important one to the local population. In this case, compost might not be the solution that is needed. As a further step, the insights that we got from the local knowledge elicitation process now can be used for follow-up projects and make sure that these projects are taking into account the local perspective to find a solution. As a new working hypothesis we could formulate that finding ways to tackle the weed management problem and at the same time reducing soil fertility depletion, might reduce the need for new land from the forest.
  17. As a further step, the insights that we got from the local knowledge elicitation process now can be used for follow-up projects and make sure that these projects are taking into account the local perspective to find a solution. As a new working hypothesis we could formulate that finding ways to tackle the weed management problem and at the same time reducing soil fertility depletion, might reduce the need for new land from the forest.
  18. So, our findings show that integrating local ecological knowledge allows to understand the system from a farmers point of view and enabled to identify important drivers – namely weed management - in the decision-making process that might have been missed when we had only looked at the ecology of the production system.
  19. As a conclusion we therefore argue that if changes in natural resource management, and in our example in a more sustainable production system, are to be adopted in practice, the integration of local needs and constraints are crucial. And by this we could exactly support the overall claim of today’s symposia. And with this I’d like to thank you for your attention and I’m open to any question now or later