Local and Scientific Soil Knowledge

A presentation made to the FRN working group about scientists’ and farmers’ assessments of soil health.

It is widely acknowledged that farmers understand much about their soils. This ‘local soil knowledge’ ( LSK ) is often expressed in terms different from scientists’ soil knowledge ( SSK). Soil knowledge can be distinguished in 3 areas; this helps to move beyond the idea that knowledge is just soil classification or management practices.

  • Kosmos ’ what we believe about soil’s place in the universe (e.g. a component of “mother earth” in many cultures)
  • Corpus ’ what we know about soils in general, e. g. “texture is the result of the proportions of sand, silt, and clay”
  • Praxis ’ all of our practical and management knowledge , e.g when is best to till, why/why not not to till, why legumes, how does manure regenerate a soil, etc.

Resource Download:

SteveVanek-RicCoe-Soil knowledge_2020-04 (pdf)


Steven J. Vanek and Ric Coe



Resource Type:

Learning / story