Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge of Soil Regulation Services, and Factors Effecting Decision-Making in Agricultural Landscapes in the Terai Plains of Nepal

Jessica P.R. Thorn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Rapid degradation of soil regulation services is a growing concern for agricultural producers worldwide, with the potential for adverse impacts on agricultural productivity, food security, and livelihoods. Yet, data integrating observations of soil nutrient and physical status with farmers’ knowledge of soil fertility is lacking, while landscape-level empirical assessments remain limited. In this paper, it is argued that a deeper understanding of the benefits and trade-offs of management practices currently employed by farmers to secure soil nutrients could help to promote improvements in natural resource management, agricultural productivity and efficiency. Using the case of the Central and Western Terai Plains of Nepal in 2012–2014, rice-cultivated soil parameters were estimated, and 354 respondents were interviewed to determine the cropping systems, soil nutrient status and risks, indigenous soil classification systems, and key biophysical, institutional, economic and risk perception factors effecting decision-making. Findings reveal farmers are acutely aware of the main causes of soil degradation and until today, these issues continue to be of critical importance. To counter this degradation, farmers employ a diversity of landscape-level practices to secure optimal crop yields and soil nutrients. However, farmers have limited access to agricultural extension services and scientific monitoring and apply fewer mineral fertilisers than previously reported. Additional investments are required to optimize farmers’ practices and soil regulation services, such as cooperation for knowledge innovation systems, public/private extension, organisation for co-management, integrated nutrient management, and private forestry on farms. The case illustrates local knowledge and incremental efforts to adapt to emerging risks remain the foundation to implement spatially targeted conservation measures and design adaptive land use plans.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas - 4th EAI International Conference, InterSol 2020, Proceedings
EditorsJessica P.R. Thorn, Jessica P.R. Thorn, Assane Gueye, Adam P. Hejnowicz
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783030510503
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020
Event4th EAI International Conference on Innovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas, InterSol 2020 - Nairobi, Kenya
Duration: 8 Mar 20209 Mar 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social-Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering, LNICST
Volume321 LNICST
ISSN (Print)1867-8211


Conference4th EAI International Conference on Innovations and Interdisciplinary Solutions for Underserved Areas, InterSol 2020


  • Agriculture
  • Decision-making
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil fertility status
  • Soil regulation services

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