The InPaC-S Participatory approach and methodological guide (Portuguese for Integração Participativa de Conhecimentos sobre Indicadores de Qualidade do Solo, or Participatory Knowledge Integration on Indicators of Soil Quality) are the result of more than 10 years of South-South collaboration and knowledge sharing between Latin American and Africa. The methodological guide was jointly published by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) following three years of synthesis and further development with representatives of farmer communities, governmental and non-governmental rural extension and advisory services, national and state research institutions and universities in Brazil. Regional workshops were conducted in the five most important, and also contrasting biomes, namely, the “Pantanal” wetlands and humid savannas, the “Amazon” tropical rainforest, “Cerrado” savanna grass with low trees and shrubs, the “Caatinga” semiarid thorny scrub forest, and the “Mata Atlantica” moist tropical forest involving Embrapa researchers and key stakeholders with support of the Embrapa Fund to the CGIAR. The InPaC-S methodological guide was designed to facilitate bottom up approaches that integrate local knowledge into the soil management decision making processes and strengthen the relevance, credibility and legitimacy dimensions required for the increased adoption of improved management practices. This methodological guide describes how to apply participatory tools in identifying, classifying and prioritizing local indicators of soil quality which are summarized in the Synthesis Matrix tool. It also describes how to integrate these local indicators in the structure of global technical/scientific knowledge of soil science and agricultural management which is summarized in the Integration Matrix tool. This is followed by a knowledge sharing process aiming at building farmer community consensus on how to best address soil fertility constraints identified following agro-ecological management principles and the co-development of integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) options. The process is concluded with the Soil’s Fair where farmers and trainees split into four groups that rotate through four thematic tables where simple soil quality assessment demonstrations are provided. Participatory methodologies used to develop a “hybrid” knowledge base, combining local and scientific knowledge, reflect an effort to understand the complexity of the land management decision making. The conceptual basis of the InPaC-S methodological approach is that local knowledge and scientific knowledge share a number of common ‘core’ concepts; however, each knowledge system has gaps that in many cases can be complemented by each other. New research for development efforts should rely on an expanded shared knowledge that blends local and global scientific knowledge that is more relevant, credible and legitimate to small farmer communities. This is part of a continuing effort to develop land health monitoring systems that strengthen local environmental/agricultural institutions and communities with tools that support local decision-making in natural resource management and promote sustainable land use in agricultural landscapes. More recently, the Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace provided the financial support for a team of Embrapa and ICRAF scientists to bring the InPaC-S methodology to Africa and the opportunity to contribute to the efforts of this effective platform for South-South collaboration.

Summary of uses: • Applying participatory tools in identifying, classifying and prioritizing local knowledge on indicators of soil quality and soil fertility management • Systematic participatory process to blend farmer knowledge on soil quality and soil fertility management, with knowledge generated by soil science and agricultural research

Data and Resources




Data Types

AgroVoc Tags


comments powered by Disqus

Additional Information

Field Value
Contributing organisations World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
Contact person Edmundo Barrios
Participatory approach / method to address complexity
Target audience
When in the project cycle is the tool useful
Contribution to gender research
Spatial scale
Levels of organizations taken into account
Source of data
Expected output of tool
Type of assessment
Tool manual/User guide
Citation Barrios E, Coutinho HLC, Medeiros CAB, 2012 InPaC-S: Participatory Knowledge Integration on Indicators of Soil Quality – Methodological Guide. ICRAF, Embrapa, CIAT. Nairobi, 178 p.