Ethnopedological knowledge of upland Karbi Community: A case study from Dima Hasao District of Assam, North-Eastern Himalaya, India


Borah, Nepolion ; Ladon, Padma ; Garkoti, Satish Chandra


This paper describes the ethnopedological knowledge of indigenous upland Karbi farmers inhabiting a hilly area of Assam, India. Semi-directive interviews, focused group discussion and joint field visit methods were used for eliciting information on soil from key knowledge holders identified through chain referrals. Soil was classified into eight folk types based on fertility which were determined via its physical properties viz., colour, texture, water retention capacity and compactness. This classification helped them in land-use and crop-selection related decisions and some other uses. Plant species viz., Albizia spp., Imperata cylindrica, Lantana camara and Schima wallichii indicating soil fertility were valued for identification of most suitable jhum sites. To minimize soil erosion, indigenous techniques like inverted ‘U’ shaped channels, maintaining standing trees and cut stumps, and placing horizontal wooden logs across shifting agricultural fields on steep slopes were employed. The laboratory analysis of physico-chemical parameters viz., bulk density, colour, texture, water holding capacity, pH, soil organic carbon and total nitrogen support the ethnopedological knowledge of the farmers. Study may help in preservation and protection of local knowledge on soil which is eroding fast under the influence of modernity.


Crop suitability, Fertility management, Folk soil taxonomy, Indicator species, Karbi, Traditional knowledge

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