Soil biogeochemical patterns in the Talamanca foothills, Costa Rica :local soil knowledge and implications for agroecosystems


Winowiecki, Leigh.. (2008). Soil biogeochemical patterns in the Talamanca foothills, Costa Rica :local soil knowledge and implications for agroecosystems. Theses and Dissertations Collection, University of Idaho Library Digital Collections.

Soil biogeochemical patterns in the Talamanca foothills, Costa Rica :local soil knowledge and implications for agroecosystems
Winowiecki, Leigh.
Soils--Quality--Costa Rica--Talamanca (Canton) Farmers--Agriculture--Education--Costa Rica--Talamanca (Canton)
Soil and Land Resources and Agroforestry
Smallholder farmers in the Bribri and Cabécar indigenous territories in southeastern Costa Rica face many socio-economic and biophysical constraints that limit the success of their subsistence and cash-crop agriculture. The indigenous territories lie within the MesoAmerican Biological Corridor and are an active site for biodiversity conservation projects. Despite this, very little is known about their local ecological knowledge and very few efforts have included farmers' knowledge in agricultural extension projects. The objectives of this research are four-fold: (1) Understand how indigenous Cabécar farmers in three communities express local soil knowledge in their crop allocation; (2) Assess soil biogeochemical properties of the Talamanca foothills to provide useful information for agroecosystems; (3) Quantify the base cation nutrient reserves in aboveground and belowground pools in a cacao agroforestry and a shifting cultivation system to make predications about long-term sustainability; and (4) Utilize a livelihood's approach for the incorporation of socio-economic factors in biodiversity conservation projects. Several methods were employed including: participatory methods for local soil knowledge data collection; spatially balanced sampling design of soils along toposequences; and monitoring of soil primary, exchangeable, and soluble base cation pools in two agroecosystems. Farmers identify three distinct soil types within the foothill region. Each soil type is correlated with a specific landscape position and crop suitability. Soil biogeochemical patterns conclude that Typic Hapludults occupy both ridgetop and midslope landscape positions, Typic Dystrudepts and Dystric Eutrudepts occupy the footslopes, and Udifluvents and Fluventic Eutrudepts occupy the floodplain. Total Si, Ca, and K contents increase downslope. Soil under the diverse cacao agroforestry system is nutrient-poor, yet leaflitter inputs provide the necessary requirements of Ca and Mg for annual cacao harvest. A deficit of K exists due to the high K concentrations in harvested cacao husks. Land management techniques on these nutrient-poor Ultisols are needed to enhance biocycling, incorporate continuous organic matter inputs into the soil, and minimize leaching losses. A livelihood's approach identified changing trends in socio-economic factors affecting land-use decisions, including the conversion of a subsistence-based economy to cash-crop agricultural systems. Farmers are concerned about their survival amidst the current socio-economic conditions and the nutrient-poor soils they farm.
Thesis (Ph. D., Soil and Land Resources and Agroforestry)--University of Idaho and Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, May 2008.
Major Professor:
Paul McDaniel and Eduardo Somarriba.
Defense Date:
May 2008.
Format Original:
172 leaves :ill. ;29 cm.

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