Outsiders often oversimplify Amazon soil use by assuming that abundantly available natural soils are poorly suited to agriculture and that sporadic anthropogenic soils are agriculturally productive. Local perceptions about the potentials and limitations of soils probably differ, but information on these perceptions is scarce. We therefore examined how four indigenous communities in the Middle Caquetá River region in the Colombian Amazon classify and use natural and anthropogenic soils. The study was framed in ethnopedology: local classifications, preferences, rankings, and soil uses were recorded through interviews and field observations. These communities recognized nine soils varying in suitability for agriculture. They identified anthropogenic soils as most suitable for agriculture, but only one group used them predominantly for their swiddens. As these communities did not perceive soil nutrient status as limiting, they did not base crop-site selection on soil fertility or on the interplay between soil quality and performance of manioc genetic resources.
- Amazonian Dark Earths
- Indigenous communities