Traditional Soil Classification

Module Progress:

In the last few modules, you’ve learned about how soil diversity and biocultural diversity are both linked and crucial for the health of the other. In this module, you’ll explore traditional methos of soil management and classification. As you’ve read, human beings have had cultural connections to soil for a long time. Over that time, many indigenous cultures developed a deep understanding of soil, from which they created complex soil classification systems comparable to modern western scientific soil classification systems.

While Western academics rely on these classifications for soil, different cultures have had their own unique soil classification systems for millennia. Below you’ll read about “Ethnopedology” as a way to study traditional soil classifications.

Article 1: Ethnopedology and Folk Soil Taxonomies

by Pavel Krasilnikov and Joe Tabor | from Soils, Plant Growth and Crop Production Vol III


Next, you will find three selected readings about traditional soil classification systems in different regions. Please choose one or more and answer the question in the forum that follows:

1. Maya and WRB Soil Classification in Yucatan, Mexico: Differences and Similarities

2. Soil Management in Traditional Agriculture in Southeast Asia

3.Traditional Systems of Soil Classification in Zimbabwe

Optional Reading:

Ethnopedology: a worldwide view on the soil knowledge of local people