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Investigaciones geográficas

versión On-line ISSN 2448-7279versión impresa ISSN 0188-4611


AGUILAR-OREA, Geovanni Fidel; RUIZ ROSADO, Octavio; ORTIZ SOLORIO, Carlos Alberto  y  ALCUDIA, Liliana Armida. Ethnopedology as a Tool for the Characterization of Agroecosystems at the Local Level: The Case of a Coffee Ejido in Central Veracruz. Invest. Geog [online]. 2019, n.99, e59850.  Epub 25-Sep-2019. ISSN 2448-7279.

Through time and across space, the growth of human populations has produced profound and irreversible marks on natural landscapes. The consequences of human activities include deforestation and pollution, which show an ever-increasing intensity and expansion. In addition, conventional farming systems are amongst the major causes of the degradation of natural resources.

The characterization of these resources at the local level is fundamental in Mexico in order to optimize the sustainable use of agroecosystems (AES), which provide food while preserving biodiversity and ecological processes. Some of the most important AESs in tropical areas are agro-silvo-pastoral systems, cornfields interspersed with fruit trees and shade coffee plantations.

Sustainability can only be achieved with planning as an essential element, and the latter requires the characterization of the territory and its formation processes since it is there where productive activities take place. In particular, soil is a natural component with extremely slow development and is considered a non-renewable natural resource, as it can be degraded and removed over a short time. Therefore, the geographic distribution and genesis of soil should be investigated to achieve efficient uses and conservation.

In addition, there is a methodological gap within the topic of AES that restrains an in-depth characterization of these productive systems; hence, it is necessary to consider methodological approaches that have been developed in the past. In this context, the peasant classification of land developed by Ortiz et al. (1991) as part of ethnopedology, complements the local knowledge of farmers with the technical expertise of scientists. This combination provides detailed information for mapping, classification, description of use, management, and exploitation of land and the components of any AES. From this, data can be obtained to describe the structure of AES at the “ejido” and farm levels with updated and first-hand information.

The above arguments underline the need to characterize the land and structure of coffee AES of the Mafafas ejido, seeking to identify constraints and potentials to formulate sustainable local planning options. This approach was applied in the ejido of Mafafas, located in the municipality of Tepetlan, Veracruz. This ejido shows a significant decrease in coffee productivity as a result of the increasing frequency of pests in addition to other socioeconomic causes.

It is considered that the local knowledge of producers provided comprehensive information of AESs. This can be complemented with scientific knowledge to yield information for the integral characterization of coffee AES at the local level; this is applicable for decision-making, contribute to building communication bridges between both types of knowledge, and is useful to formulate strategies for improved management of local natural resources.

A map at 1:10 000 scale was constructed that depicts eight land classes where the predominant pedogenetic processes include the accumulation of clays, melanization, and colluviation; four land uses were identified in these classes. Also, the analysis of 11 farms showed various components and structures, but share common patterns. These overview of the characteristics of soils and the coffee plantations in the Mafafas ejido will set the basis to formulate proposals for improving agricultural productivity in the locality.

This study illustrates a feasible alternative to characterize AESs through a systemic and transdisciplinary method that uses local knowledge and it is easy to apply; the results from this procedure support the idea that all ejidos require a study with this approach, to support local planning and development in the Mexican countryside.

Palabras llave : Local knowledge; agroecosystems; coffee plantations; ethnopedology; soil mapping.

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