A land-potential knowledge system (LandPKS) based on local and scientific knowledge of land productivity and resilience

TitleA land-potential knowledge system (LandPKS) based on local and scientific knowledge of land productivity and resilience
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHerrick JE, Urama K.C., Karl JW, Boos J, Johnson M-VV, Shepherd K, Hempel J, Bestelmeyer BT, Davies J., Guerra JLarson, Kosnik C, Kimiti D.W., Losinyen A, Muller K, Norfleet L.M., Ozor N, Reinsch T, Sarukhan J., West L.T.
Conference Name2nd Scientific Conference, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
Date Published04/2013
Conference LocationBonn, Germany
ARIS Log Number293351
Keywordsdecision support system, mobile apps, mobile phones, soil, sustainable land management

Economic assessment of land use change in drylands depends on understanding potential productivity, degradation resistance and resilience, all of which vary widely and are often ignored. Rapidly increasing demand, together with new technologies, migration and global capital mobility are driving dramatic land use changes. Management practices that are productive and sustainable on one type of land may, when applied to adjacent lands, result in irreversible degradation due to differences in soil, topography and climate. Conversely, lessons learned on land separated by thousands of kilometers are often relevant, provided that similar conditions exist. New technologies, including cloud-computing, digital soil mapping, GPS-enabled camera phones, and mobile ‘apps’ now provide the opportunity to gather, integrate and share new knowledge and information about land potential, while global databases make existing knowledge more accessible and easier to match to relevant conditions. A new “Land-Potential Knowledge System” (LandPKS) will integrate existing natural resource databases with targeted field data collection of knowledge and information using new cell phone-based tools. An understanding of land potential can be used to determine where: (1) land is not meeting its productive potential (for all ecosystem services), (2) unrealistic expectations are driving unsustainable development investments, and (3) proposed intensification is likely to lead to irreversible degradation. Decision tools will support land use planning and targeted interventions by governments, development and conservation organizations and farmers. Knowledge of land potential can dramatically increase the return on investment by focusing resources on sustainable land uses and management strategies.