Program Coordinator's Comments on the External Evaluation Panel Report on
the Indonesia TropSoils Program
TropSoils Project University of Hawaii
Program Coordinator's Comments on the EEP Report on the Indonesia TropSoils Program
The External Evaluation Panel's report on the Indonesia TropSoils Program is a useful document as it clearly and for the first time highlights problems created by the uncertain roles of the Management Entity and Program Coordinator. The report also reveals for the first time that the Indonesia TropSoils program has been operating under two conflicting aims--one designed and planned by the lead institution and another advocated by the Management Entity. Resolution of these issues will be helpful to both Management Entity and Program Coordinator.
To keep my comments to a manageable length, I will focus on (1) project
design, (2) project planning and management, and (3) staffing and management. I will end with several conclusions and recommendations.
I would be pleased to repond to any issue which I have not addressed.
The Panel is explicit about its impression that Drs. Wade's and Colfer's efforts were directed towards meeting the needs of local farmers, whereas the Program Coordinator "placed primary emphasis on the construction of semi-variograms using geostatistical techniques to map soils variability, modeling phosphorus-lime interactions, and developing expert systems to improve and transfer soil management research information." The Panel faults the Program Coordinator for this "dichotomy of approaches" and warns that expert systems (and I presume geostatistics and models) should not be developed as "ends in themselves." Given these impressions, the Panel has every right to be concerned about the project and its design.
These impressions of digressions from established aims are consistent with item number 6 which states that "this project on the upland soils of Indonesia arose
from the need to evaluate some of the findings of research done under similar conditions at the Yurimaguas site in the Upper Amazon area of Peru." Herein lies the problem; the Indonesia TropSoils program has two aims--one to evaluate findings of research done in Peru and another designed to generate, organize and preserve soil management information for decision making. These conflicting aims detract from the attainment of currently stated objectives.
What the Panel fails to mention, or chose to ignore is the fact that the
Indonesian Center for Soil Research and the University of Hawaii had completed five years of soil management research in South Sumatra on similar soils under the AIIDfunded Benchmark Soils Project just prior to the start of the TropSoils project. Owing to the already large body of knowledge on Indonesian acid upland soils, the Program Coordinator chose to hire an anthropologist on the project to provide feedback to enable project scientists to design experiments which would produce results more relevant to farmers. The Program Coordinator now understands why the Management Entity expressed such strong reservations about this decision and warned of the dangers of getting into extension work. Today the joint effort of soil and social scientists is proclaimed as innovative, and the Panel confirms the correctness of this approach. It even acknowledges the already large body of knowledge on soil behavior and performance by stating that "there have been no major scientific surprises with respect to soil management in the findings of the project to date." The project came dangerously close to rediscovering what was already known and doing what had already been done.
Acceptance of new ideas can be painful and takes time. I thought time had
healed the hurt of bringing geostatistics, expert systems, social science, and modeling into the project, but the report indicates otherwise. Why geostatistics?
Soil management research must not be site specific, but the management recommendations we make must be site specific. How does one make site specific
recommendations in the absence of site information? Geostatistics enables users to estimate data for unsampled location from information that already exists in the neighborhood. The alternative is to collect and analyze an endless array of soil samples or make a guess. Geostatistics is a powerful tool for predicting soil properties at unsampled locations for making soil management decisions. It can be used by policy makers at the national level and by extension agents at the farm level to complement information in soil survey reports. Anyone who reads the soil science literature knows that geostatistics is prominently covered in the professional journals. Our work in Indonesia and Hawaii has not gone unnoticed and Dr. Nyle Bady, Editor of Advances in Agronomy, asked project personnel to prepare a review article on the subject which was published in 1985. On the other hand, I was disappointed to hear the Management Entity refer to our work with geostatistics as "silly maps." I might e also add that contrary to the EEP report, Drs. Wade and Colfer did not consider geostatistics and expert systems to be impositions on the team, but understood their significance and supported and participated in their development. I had hoped the Panel would applaud the team's effort on geostatistics rather than to downplay it as emphasis of the Program Coordinator.
Our work with expert systems has fared well relatively to the initial opposition encountered with social science or geostatistics. But coming in quick succession after two unpopular activities did not help. In item number 21, the Panel warns the project to view experts systems as "means to ends," and not as "ends in themselves," and continues by advising the team that it "would profit from a coordinated effort to build the many parts that are still needed to provide the missing parts for this specific expert system." On the other hand the report states that "even some of the smallest commercial experts systems cost at least $1,000,000." Based on these observations, the Panel clearly should have recommend that all activity on expert systems be stopped, especially if it truly believes that building even a small system cost a million
dollars. The Panel goes on to state "just because expert systems and models represent an important hope for the future does not mean that everything else should be abandoned in their pursuit."
Does the Panel realize that exetsystems and models cannot be developed
by abandoning field research and that one of the principal aims of developing them is to capture, organize and preserve biophysical and socioeconomic information generated by the TropSoils project for decision making by users? The Panel obviously doe because item 11 states, "many of the biophysical and socioeconomic findings have been incorporated into an "expert system" for lime use, which can be utilized not only for the Sitiung area but also expandable to areas outside the study area and can serve to help extrapolate the information developed from this project. The model is in a form to accept new information as it becomes available, and is kept up to date at the University of Hawaii."
It is not possible to have achieved what is described under item 11 if expert systems cost one million dollars to develop, everything else was abandoned in their pursuit and they were developed as ends in themselves. It requires an innovative, well-planned, properly managed, cost-effective program to integrate social science and the new science of artificial intellegence into traditional soil management research.
Project Planning and Management
In the report, the Panel expressed considerable dismay about the "laissezfaire attitude" of the Program Coordinator (item 12) and the introduction of "an entirely new research program" on the next to the last day of the review (item 14). The laissez-faire charge is not consistent with a Program Coordinator who has introduced social science, geostatistics, expert systems and models into a soil management project. Frugality by team members (item 12) or the project as a whole, does not fit a
laissez-faire approach. If by laissez-faire attitude, one means to give team members the intellectual freedom to pursue excellence in their own way, I accept that charge.
The charge that a totally new program was introduced by the Program
Coordinator during the review indicates that the Panel did not read the extensive materials distributed to all members prior to the review. This "new program" has been the principal framework for the Indonesia TropSoils project for several years. It has been discussed on several occasions with the Management Entity, as recently as November 1986 in a hotel room in New Orleans, and again at Cornell University a month later in a private meeting in which I outlined on a blackboard the essential components of the program. The structure of the program given in Figure 1 of the "Strategic Plan for the Indonesia TropSoils Program" is part of the review materials compiled for distribution to the Panel. Distribution of the Strategic Plan is acknowledged under item 3 of the report, but the Panel failed to note its connection to the "totally new program" or the Work Plans.
Did the Panel know that Colfer, Wade and Yost had been involved in the
development of the Work Plans? It obviously did not because in item 25, the Panel recommends that "Drs. Colfer and Wade be brought into the program as consultants to work for a period of two weeks in the design of the future research program and its detailed elements." If the Panel believes the earlier plan, designed for the future research program with the help of Drs. Colfer, Wade, Yost, Evensen, McCants, and Indonesian scientists was unacceptable, it should have said so and pointed out its deficiences. Instead the report leaves the impression that nothing was done in the past year to prepare for the arrival of two new team members and to develop work plans for the future.
What about efforts to implement this Work Plan?
On July 3, I wrote to the Director of the Management Entity requesting
approval to hire a replacement for Dr. Colfer. My letter to him and his response are
attached. The Director's letter provides insight into two aspects of project management. First, his continuing uncertainty about the value of Dr. Colfer's contribution to the project which is reflected in his conclusion to not fill the position until her work is reviewed, and to determine the priority of this type of activity relative to other needs. Although the Panel now praises the project's socioeconomic component, it failed to note that it has been necessary for us to repeatedly justify Dr. Colfer's work to the Management Entity. In fact a paper "Social science contribution to soil management: the TropSoils example, from the view of an Anthropologist" which I included in the materials to the Panel was written by Dr. Colfer for the Management Entity's benefit.
Not only was my request to hire a social scientist denied, the letter also
instructs me not to consider Dr. Vickie Sigman for a position owing to her orientation in the extension area, even though my letter makes no mention of Dr. Sigman.' This denial to replace Dr. Colfer and the added instruction not to consider Dr. Sigman for a position reflect the Management Entity's attempt to assume the role of the Program Coordinator. The havoc this situation creates in program management was unfortunately not known to the Panel.
If the Panel's concern (item 24) about the level and quality of management from the University of Hawaii is to be properly addressed, it needs to state very clearly the roles of the Management Entity and Program Coordinator. Is it proper for the Management Entity to tell the Program Coordinator who can and cannot be hired, or to set program priorities by sending a graduate student from North Carolina State University to Indonesia to review and make recommendations on agroforestry research when the University of Hawaii has senior faculty with long international experience in this area? While social science and agroforestry research was given prominence in the June 1986 Work Plans, I believe it is in the program's best interest to leave program management to Program Coordinators. I might add that even though
a decision to emphasize agroforestry over social science would have important consequences to project management, the Program Coordinator was never given a 7 coor its recommendations...
In February of last year, in preparation for the departure of Carol Colfer and Mike Wade, and the arrival of Ron Guyton and Lalit Arya, I wrote to Mr. Richard Cobb of the USAID Mission (letter attached) requesting a meeting of Indonesian, USAID, the Management Entity, and University of Hawaii representatives to formulate plans for the future. In preparation for that meeting, I drafted the "Strategic Plan for the TropSoils Program." Dr. McCants, Russ Yost, and I travelled to Indonesia to prepare the Work Plan with Mike Wade, Carol Colfer, and other Indonesian and U.S. team members. Upon our return to the U.S., I distributed clean copies to all who were involved in developing the Work Plan and incorporated their comments into a final Work Plan which I submitted to Ms. Joanne Hale of the USAID Mission in August 1986. It should be noted that the project objectives as stated in the Strategic Plan were to a large extent preserved in the Work Plan.
In item 15, the report states "The Panel members were frustrated by this turn of events, for the program they came to review had disappeared." The program which I tried to describe to the Panel was the Strategic Plan for the Indonesia TropSoils Program and the Work Plan that emerged from it. Had the Panel done their homework they would have recognized that what I was trying to do was show how TropSoils interdisciplinary research might be used to obtain desired outcomes for users using the framework provided in Figure 1 of the Strategic Plan. As indicated earlier, this was not a totally new program which "had not been fully discussed or agreed upon by the Hawaiian Team." The program had been prepared by the Team in the presence of, and with the full approval of the Management Entity. The Panel did not recognize it for what it was because they had not taken time to read the materials distributed to
them. If they were "frustrated by this turn of events" that situation could easily have been changed by asking a few questions.
The seriousness of the Panel's concerns is reflected in an item 15 sentence
which states "without a well- thought-through program to review, it looked seriously at the possibility of recommending the termination of the work in Indonesia, but decided not to do so, because it considered that much of the progress made by Golfer, Wade, and Yost would be lost." In saying this, the Panel misses a key point, namely that one of the major aims of the project is to capture, organize and preserve research results for dissemination to users. To lose the progress made by Drs. Golfer, Wade and Yost, and other team members would indeed be criminal. It is precisely for this reason that the program has been "well-thought-through" to exploit tools such as expert systems, models and geostatistics to ensure that knowledge is not only preserved but organized for quick dissemination and use. Expert systems and models not only preserve knowledge, but are also excellent exposers of ignorance and therefore are equally useful for setting research priorities. Our research priorities are set not by a need to "evaluate findings of research done in Peru" but by our inability to make sound soil management decisions because pieces of knowledge are missing.
A program pulled in two directions-one designed by the Program Coordinator and the other by the Management Entity-is not easily managed. In an effort to resolve this problem, I wrote to the Director of the Management Entity shortly after the review. My letter and his response are attached.
Staffing and Management
The key to high staff performance in Sitiung resides in adding a social scientist to the current U.S. team consisting of a crop scientist and a soil scientist. While our attempt to fill the social scientist position was unsuccessful, it now appears that the Mission is prepared to finance such a position. Based on this new development, I
have outlined a plan for team strengthening which has been submitted to the Management Entity and the USAID Mission.
We were very fortunate in the first phase of the project to have two senior
scientists with Indonesian experience and language proficiency. The two new senior scientists and their families received nearly a month of language training prior to their arrival on post and have taken steps to improve their conversational skills. At the time of the review, both were very much involved in closing down several projects initiated by their predecessors. I take blame for their reticence during the review for I instructed our U.S. staff to encourage the Indonesian scientists to take charge and describe the on-going research to credit the Indonesians for their contributions. I also misjudged the Panel's reaction to my agreement with the Indonesian scientists to show the Panel TropSoils research conducted by our Indonesian counterparts on their own initiative and funds at another location some distance away. I had hoped the Panel would be impressed with the Indonesian scientists' effort to take TropSoils results into farmers' fields, but only a brief mention is made of this in the report. I was disappointed with this brevity because almost a whole day was spent on reviewing Government of Indonesia TropSoils-related work. To paraphrase the Panel's words, TropSoils is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
I take full responsibility for on-site staff performance. The Department
Chairman and I are also responsible for encouraging an even larger on-campus staff to make contributions to TropSoils. The Strategic Plan for the Indonesia TropSoils Program which I prepared last year is a challenge that can be realized only if AID, the U.S. Universities, and the host country agencies share resources to achieve common goals. The Panel report fails to mention the role of the University even though Dr. Ray Smith expressed the University of Hawaii Administration's strong commitment to the program.
1. This report indicates the need to define the roles of the Management Entity and
the Program Coordinator in program design, management and staffing.
A Program Coordinator designs and manages a program to exploit the
strengths of a University. The farming systems approach taken by the project was
based on the existence of faculty expertise and interest in the Departments of Agricultural and Resource Economics and of Human Resources. The work on
expert system traces back to collaboration with supporting faculty in the
Department of Information and Computer Sciences. The program's strength in
geostatistics derives from the University's involvement in regional research, and its modeling capability resides in an internationally recognized group of modelers collaborating with the University of Hawaii in another AID-funded project. While the University has many strengths, these particular areas were selected for their
relevance to the situation in Indonesia.
Program design and management cannot be evaluated by examining the
work in Sitiung in isolation of the total program. A program review conducted in
this way dwells too heavily on program management and too little on program
2. The project is a success not in spite of the Program Coordinator's efforts, but
because of them. The following evidences support this conclusion.
In a cover memo attached to a review document distributed to Panel
members dated January 13, 1987, 1 state, "The materials I have pulled together are
intended to show how the social science and agronomic research conducted in
Sitiung can be captured in expert systems and simulation models so that it can be
transferred to resource-poor farmers, not just in Sitiung, but anywhere in
Indonesia or the Humid Tropics. Our aim is to leave behind a soil management
decision support system which can be used by AARD, the IJSAID Mission and the collaborating U.S. institutions when the TropSoils project comes to an end."
The Panel concludes that "the work of the TropSoils project in Indonesia
has been widely recognized for its quality and its potential contribution to
agricultural development on upland acid soils." It also briefly describes significant
project results in items 9, 10 and 11.
Thus the Panel does not find fault in program performance, but finds the
thrust imposed on the project by the Program Coordinator to be an imposition on the team. However, the significant results described in items 10 and 11, and the
bottom half of item 9 are largely consequences of a program designed by the
1. The External Evaluation Panel or some other group should define the roles of the
Director of the Management Entity and the Program Coordinator to minimize
conflict in program management responsibilities.
2. An External Evaluation Panel report should include a total program review
including on-campus activities conducted in support of the program to ascertain
institutional commitment and the relevance of project outputs to both host country
and U.S. agriculture.
3. The Director of the Management Entity should advise the Program Coordinator of
the nature of the review so that the Panel's expectation and the program review
agenda are identical. This was not the case in this review and although the
Management Entity distributed a preliminary agenda, there was no consensus
agenda during the review.
ADVANCES IN AGRONOMY. VOL 38
APPLICATION OF GEOSTATISTICS
TO SPATIAL STUDIES OF SOIL
B. B. Trangmar," R. S. Yost,2 and G. Uehara2
I Soil Bureau. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Christchurch. New Zealand
2 Department of Agronomy and Soil Science College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources University of Hawaii. Honolulu. Hawaii
1 Introduction ......................................... 45
11. Nature of Soil Variability ................................. 47
A. Systematic and Random Variation ......................... 47
B. Nested Effects ..................................... 47
[it1 Traditional Methods of Describing Soil Variability ..................... 49
A. Soil Classification and Soil Survey ......................... 49
B. Statistical Analysis ............. ..................... 51
IV. Regionalized Variable Theory and Geostatistcs .................... .... 53
A. Development of Geostatistics ................................. 53
B. Theory of Regionalized Variables .............................. 54
V. Analysis of Spatial Dependence .............................. 56
A. Autocorrelation .................................... 56
B. Semi-variograms .................................... 57
VI. Interpolation by Kriging .................................. 70
A. General ......................................... 70
B. Punctual Kriging ................................... 71
C. Block Kriging ..................................... 75
D. Co-Kriging ....................................... 80
E. Universal Kriging ................................... 85
F. Kriging from Non-normally Distributed Data .................... 88
VII. Perspectives: Future Use of Geostatistics in Soil Research ................ 89
References .......................................... 91
The precision of statements that can be made about soil properties at any location depends largely on the amount of variation within the area sampled. As heterogeneity of soils increases, the precision of statements about their
Copyright o0 1985 by Academic Press. Inc.
All right of reproduction in any rorms reserved.
STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE INDONESIA
The principal goal of the TropSoils program is to uncover principle which will enable resource-poor farmers to adopt soil management practice that will increase and stablize farm productivity and family income and, at the same time preserve land quality for future generations. The research strategy is designed to ensure that social, cultural, economic and environmental factors that enhance adoption of soil management innovations are made an integral part of the research plan. To achieve its goal, the program conducts a significant part of its research in farmers' fields, using systems-based research.
A backlog of potentially beneficial soil management practices remains
unused because the people who need them most do not have the time, resources or skills to test every promising practice in each biophysical and socioeconomic setting. The ecological range over which farmers operate is'so broad that even the largest research network cannot hope to deal with the uniqueness of every farming system. Today the cost of testing new crops, products and practices in existing farming systems far exceeds the cost to produce the crop, product or practice. And if the new field of biotechnology delivers on its promise to produce even more innovations, the inability to match the requirements of technology to the resource characteristics of farmers will continue to be the major bottleneck to agricultural development.
The Agency for International Development working with U.S. and host
country institutions is developing the means to overcome bottlenecks that now prevent rapid integration of new crops, products and practices into existing farming systems to make them more productive, stable, equitable and sustainable. But at the same time, AID, the U.S. institutions and the host country agencies are faced with diminishing resources to carry out their
responsibilities. The new challenge for the group, and particularly for the U.S. institutions, is to provide more service of better quality with fewer resources. To do so the U.S. institutions with their large technical base must provide the scientific leadership to create with the USAID mission and host country agencies the research structure to move quickly and efficiently, the huge backlog of underexploited agroproduction technology from research centers to farmer fields.
Recent advances in computer technology and artificial intelligence present the Indonesia TrapSoils program with an opportunity and responsibility to
measureably increase the flow of agroproduction technology from research centers to farmer fields. These advances include personal computers with near
mainframe capability, data base management software to store large quantities of information in readily retrievable form, and new developments in the
artificial intelligence field covering such areas as theorem proving, game playing, machine learning, pattern recognition, natural language processing, robotics, machine cognition and expert systems.
These advances in information technology enables agricultural researchers to replace slow and costly trial and error research with systems-based
research. The central concept of systems-based research is that the whole system must be understood in order to evaluate changes in any single system component. This approach brings together existing acknowledge of the farming system, identifies major components and processes and their interactions, and seeks to identify the bottlenecks to improve performance.
Until recently this approach could not be applied to complex systems
consisting of large number of interdependent and interacting factors. Advances in information technology now enable users to organize a minimum set of relevant data to simulate complex process in agricultural systems so that costly and time consuming trial and error adjustments can be avoided.
The basic aim of systems-based research is to enable users to apply
knowledge of specific processes in complex agricultural systems and then to be able to utilize this knowledge to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the way the systems operates as a whole. A thorough understanding of systems
operation is the basis for developing expert systems and simulation models that mimic, and therefore, predict the behavior and performance of each part as it interacts with other parts in the system. Understanding and prediction, in turn, provide the basis for controlling outcomes. A thorough understanding of how agricultural systems operate is crucial to helping farmers and government planners control outcomes in desirable and predictable ways.
Data Bases, Expert Systems and Simulation Models
Data bases on the one hand and expert systems and simulation models on the other are the critical ingredients of a systems-based research strategy. Figure I illustrates how data bases and experts system/simulation models relate to predicting and controlling outcomes of alternative choices. Predicted outcomes have no credibility with users until the models that produce them have
been tested and validated in a number of environmentally different locations. A simulation model is considered to be validated if it can reliably predict the performance and yield of a crop anywhere in Indonesia, at any time of the year and for a wide range of soil management options. To do so, the model mus-t have access to a data base that contain (1) a genetic resource data base, (2) a soil resource data base and (3) a weather data base.
Simulation models are particularly useful for strategic planning by
government planners. With the proper natural resource data base for a country, a planner can simulate the performance of a crop, product or practice for any location and for as many years as one wishes. Simulation models are indispensible not only because they provide answers cheaply, but because they can do what no researcher can do experimentally. Models can simulate processes for 25, 50, or 100 years. It is now possible to execute one year of simulation in two or three seconds on a mainframe computer or two to three minutes on a personal computer. Long term simulations require long term weather data. Since few countries have long term weather data, modelers have developed weather generators to extend 15-20 year weather data into long term probabilistic weather patterns. The long term simulated results are particularly valuable for risk analysis and will show the distribution of good and bad years for a particular location and crop.
Expert systems are more useful for tactical planning at the farm level. They can be used to identify and control plant diseases, schedule irrigation, fertilizer application or spraying. The TropSoils Project, for example, has produced an expert system to assist users to make lime recommendation to correct soil acidity. By distilling and condensing the knowledge of human experts into a set of interlinked rules, knowledge engineers are able to develop computerized expert systems that enable young and inexperienced
extension agents to shift through a large knowledge base in a matter of few minutes to obtain expert recommendations for specific problems for a specific location and situation.
Using Farmer Knowledge in Decision Making
The power of expert systems lies in the system's capacity to capture and mimic knowledge known not only to scientists, but to farmers as well. Scientists generate quantitative, mechanistic knowledge that can be expressed mathematically. This type of knowledge has been called algorithmic knowledge. Farmers, on the other hand, employ rules of thumb, educated guesses, intuitive judgements or what we call, plain common sense. This type of knowledge which is receiving increasing attention in the field of artificial intelligence is known as heuristic knowledge.
One reason for the poor communication between researchers and farmers is that researchers think algorithmically whereas, farmers think heuristically. In systems-based research, both types of knowledge and thinking process are needed to enable both researcher and farmer to make responsible choices which result in desired outcomes. But with few exceptions, researchers rarely take time to ask the crucial questions of farmers. It is here that a social scientists can make a difference by coupling algorithmic to heuristic knowledge by serving as the "cultural broker" between farmer and scientist. It is the social scientist's responsibility to see that the relevant farm data is collected and that the chain of rules that link a given set of input conditions to an appropriate output is uncovered.
Prototype Decision Support System
When the TropSoils program comes to an end, a computerized, interactive, decision support system that provides users with easy access to data bases and decision models to support decision making tasks for strategic planning by government agencies and tactical planning for farmers by extension agents should be in place. Like all decision support systems, this prototype is designed to answer "what if" questions. What if a new cultivar of a soybean were introduced into an area where soybean had never been grown? How will it perform there? Will it do better in certain months? What would be the best seeding rate? Do soils of that region pose special problems to soybean production? Would lime application benefit the crop? What diseases and insects can a grower expect to encounter and what measures would one need to take to protect the crop from them? Are there crops other than soybean that would do as well, be more profitable or present less risk?
To answer these questions and many more like them for different crops, different locations and different situation, three essential elements of the decision support system must be in place at project's end. These elements are
(1) the natural resource (soil, climate, plant genetics) data base, (2) the decision models (crop simulation models and expert system), and (3) a dialog generator (means through which users communicate with decision support system).
It is not the intent of the TropSoils Project to develop a decision support system from scratch. Software for such systems are commercially available and a suitable system currently under development by another AID funded projects is available for use by the TrapSoils program.
The value of a decision support system is that it serves as an instrument for integrating the various components of a national agricultural research into a coherent whole. In this way the TropSoils program is able to conduct its
research in concert with other activities of the national research system. TropSoils considers this integration to be an essential part of systems-based research.
The objective of the Indonesia TropSoils Project is to establish a prototype decision support system in Indonesia that will:
- integrate TropSoils research with the national agricultural development
- produce user-oriented decision models by adding farmer knowledge to the
- render soil management experimental results directly useful for decision
- increase efficiency of soils-related research.
RESOURCE INEISCIPLINRY Knowledge
IN EA RY[~~ g e n e ra tio n
DATA BANK MODELS ANDKnweg
EXPERT SYSTEMS preservation
Figure 1. Systems-based research produces knowledge that enables clients to make responsible choices which result in desired outcomes.
North Carolina State Uiversity
Schoold of Agriculture and Life Sciences
N1 aa.ag rnent Eztlt)"
Soil Manag'menl CRSP
13x 7113. Raleigh 27(i95-7113
July 8, 1986
Dr. Goro Uehara
Department of Agronomy and Soil Science
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, HI 96822
This reply is to your recent letter concerning employment
of Dr. Vickie Sigman as a replacement for Dr. Carol Colfer.
There are a number of factors which lead to the conclusion
that we should not fill the Colfer position at this time. These
include: (1) a need to review the accomplishments of Carol's
program, (2) the need to determine the future course of research in the socio-economic area of work, (3) determine
the priority which this activity is given relative to other
needs, (4) arrive at a decision on how we are to address the
economic component of the program for which USAID is pressing us
on and (5) continued uncertainty on funding.
Dr. Sigman's training and orientation is in the extension
area, and while this is quite important to Indonesia in general,
there is continuing concern within AID/W about using TropSoils'
funds for this type of work.
My recommendations are: (1) explore arrangements for retaining Carol as a consultant on the program until a future
course of action is determined and (2) not consider Dr. Sigman
for a position in the program.
Thanks for providing me an opportunity to comment on this matter.
C. B. McCants
North Ca,olina Stat, Uniusity is a Land-Grant Uniuersitv and a constuturng institution ol Thr Uniprrsit of North Carohia
University of Hawaii at Manoa
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources TROPSOIL Project Soil Management CRSP Department of Agronomy and Soil Science
2500 Dole Street Krauss Hall 22 Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 Telephone: (808) 948-8858 Cable Address: UNIHAW
July 3, 1986
Dr. C. B. McCants Director, Management Entity Soil Management CRSP N. C. State University P. O. Box 7113
Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7113
Dear Dr. McCants:
This is to request approval to proceed with the recruitment of a
replacement for Dr. Carol Colfer. This request is based on the personnel requirement indicated in the "CRS/TropSoils Three Year Work Plan, October 1986-1989" prepared by us in May, revised by USAID and Indonesian representatives in June and returned to you by Ms. Joanne Hale.
I was very pleased with the revised work plan. I thought the changes were few and appropriate. It is a plan which I feel will serve us well.
We will proceed with recruitment of a farming systems specialist as soon as we receive formal approval to do so from your office.
cc S. E-1-Swaify-A. Demb/M._R.: Smith
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY ruPmAnvr1Z
23 June 1986
Social Science Contribution to Soil Management:
The Tropsoils Example, From the View of an Anthropologist (Carol J. Pierce Colfer)
Despite general acceptance within the Sitiung Tropsoils team, there has been a recurrent necessity to "justify" the participation of a social scientist on the team to outsiders. The following represents an attempt to express the kinds of contributions I have made to the research in Sitiung. The relevance of this kind of contribution depends on acceptance of the following assumptions:
- Agricultural research is undertaken to contribute to knowledge, to enhance human quality of life, and to protect the environment, as well as to increase agricultural yields.
- There has often been a problem matching soil management (and other) technology to the people who will use it.
- Such a match is desirable.
Given these assumptions, there have been five basic kinds of contributions I believe I have made. These are:
I. Responsibility for MakinQ the "Match". Although there is often general agreement that human factors are important, when a team is composed purely of agricultural scientists, there is a tendency to neglect this aspect. Scientists, almost by
definition, have their particular bailiwicks about which they are interested and in which they are trained. In any science there are sufficient research needs to keep the scientists busy. Paying attention to human factors, though perhaps desirable, is
time consuming; and scientists tend to consider it Outside their realm of expertise. Therefore they frequently don't do it. The simple fact that I was part of the team, with the specific responsibility to attend to such matters, contributed to various research decisions which were responsive to humn factors.
For instance, our current work on home gardens would probably never have been undertaken. Despite the different opportunities and constraints affecting home gardens vis-a-vis upland fields, there appears to be a perception within agriculture in general that the former are of marginal importance. The economic and nutritional significance of home gardens, as well as the opportunity to work more effectively with women farmers .(whom we have found to be very involved in agricultural endeavours)v came to our attention because of my work.
Similarly the important differences in indigenous farming systems vis-a-vis transmigrant farming systems would likely have escaped notice (as they have in every other agricultural project with which I am familiar-in Indonesia). There is a strong
government interest in transmigrants and considerable pressure to attend to their agricultural needs. However, from an equity point of view, as well as a potential source of knowledge and experience about the local environment, research on matters of concern to the indigenous population is warranted. The observation that different management practices characterized the different ethnic groups (a result of my work) has prompted uis to do a variety of experiments on different tillage practices, and
to urge'(as strongly as possible) the inclusion of research on tree crops (especially with a marketable product) in this
II. Experience Dealinq with Communities. The reticence of agricultural scientists to work with people is only partly due to overwork. Another important factor is their lack of experience and training in how to do it (reasonably enough!). One of my contributions has been to provide guidance in ways to deal with farmers in a constructive manner.
One of our most valuable activities, for making the "match" between technology and people, has been our collaborative work with farmers in Sitiung V. In this work, we would develop tentative research designs, submit them to the farmers, and revise them so they were consistent with the goals of both
farmers and researchers. We would then monitor their implementation of our joint plans .
Agricultural scientists are frequently trained to look at their activities as quite uni-directional. That is, they are familiar with the usual extension systems where the researcher does science, and then passes the "truth" on to the extension agent, who in turn passes it on to the (lowly) farmer. We were trying to operate under a different model: one where both the farmers and the researchers brought knowledge and experience of value to the joint endeavour. We were trying to collaborate, joining their experience with our science. However, getting at unfamiliar systems is not always easy. Farmers may fear
researchers; or they may be unduly respectful of educated people,
and thud unwilling to share their views; or they may simply delight in misleading outsiders.
Anthropologists are trained to understand alien systems. We know simple techniques for learning people's views. The most important techniques are extremely simple, but they do have to be known. For example, I instructed my coworkers, on our first sortee into the communities of Sitiung,
- to listen and look, to record their observations,
- to adopt a nonjudgmental attitude, to refrain -from correcting or arguing with misinformation; rather to note it down for later reference.
- to treat the farmers as equals, recognizing and
respecting their different kinds of knowledge/experience.
- to notice as much as possible about their way of life (e.g., division of labour, decisionmaking, health status, food consumption patterns, family composition, anything that might bear on agricultural activity).
And as we worked with the farmers, I frequently gave
guidance, as needed or requested. For instance, in meetings with farmers of three ethnic groups, I noted that one Indonesian coworker tended to address his remarks only to farmers of his own ethnic group; whereas we actually wanted input from all. The
"slight" was unintentional, and he was happy to make eye contact all around. I sometimes reminded my coworkers of the necessity to check farmers' statements, by asking others or by observing what they actually did. Despite women's observable involvement in agriculture, coworkers sometimes forgot---prompting a comment from me.
My ability to make this kind of contribution effectively was greatly enhanced by the particular personalities of my coworkers who appeared genuinely to want such advice from me. I also think the willingness of farmers to express their points of view (which we very much needed to know) was greatly enhanced by the sympathetic atmosphere we were able to create by use of such, simple techniques as listening attentively, behaving
respectfully, and trying to comply with local custom to some degree.
III. Taking a Holistic View. Although agriculture is
important to farmers, they remain enmeshed in a cultural system which includes such diverse components as kinship, religion, politics, education, health, and so on. Even within agriculture there are a variety of components of importance.
Agricultural. scientists are trained in experimental research designs. They think in terms of plots, fertilizer rates, ECEC, and ANOVAS. That is their work. By looking at the Sitiung context in a holistic manner, I was able to balance this (necessary) preoccupation with the specifics of soil science, with a grounding of sorts in the real world.
Unlike some farming systems projects, our goal was not to address the whole farming system. Rather it was to keep in mind the whole farming system, while determining our soil management priorities. We used soil management practices (and global issues) as the focus of Tropsoils activity, and investigated other human spheres insofar as they appeared to have a link to,
or effect on, soil management.
Examples of my contributions in this sphere included such things as:
- During a team discussion of fertilizer rates on a new experiment, someone suggests including a treatment with 6 tons bf lime/ha. I remind them that farmers cannot afford that (though we may still decide it's worthwhile for other reasons).
- A team member suggests a new trial using cowpeas as a crop because they are so aluminum tolerant. I remind them that people don't really eat cowpeas. and can't get a very good price
-The team is trying to decide whether it makes sense to do an experiment on pasture grasses and legumes. I point out the number of cattle and goats that are stall fed in Sitiung 1. and the amount of time people spend finding fodder for their animals, in support of such an experiment.
- Due to team labor shortage, we are considering abandoning our "tree systems" trial. I remind them of the reduced labor requirement for farmers of tree crops., as well as the higher cash incomes, erosion control, source of organic matter, and lower risk, as compared to food crops.
- One of our surveys has shown that nutritional status in the Area is marginal. I Suiggest we initiate some experiments on vegetable crops to enhance nutrition while doing soil science. The suggestion is taken, and a comparison of barnyard manure, composting, and inorganic fertilizers is initiated.
Building on this holistic approach to data collection (systemic, yet tied to soil management), I have made some
progress ,in integrating such information into an expert system. I expect to continue with this in the future.
IV. Provision of Specific Information. Anthropologists are also trained in various research methods for getting at specific kinds of information about people. A number of "special studies" were designed on site in response to information needs perceived by team members.
-The agricultural scientists jumped right into experiments on fertilizer and lime use, but they soon realized they wanted to know how much cash farmers had available for the purchase of such inputs. So we planned and conducted a survey to find out sources and amounts of income.
- We were concerned that our project not have deleterious effects on community nutrition (a result of some agriculture projects in the past). But to determine that, we needed a measure of nutritional status in Sitiung. We interviewed 80 families for two days and recorded their food consumption during
- We began to suspect that the local farming system (Minang) might have some important pointers for us if only we understood it better. We arranged for a four month study by an Andalas University student in a nearby Minang village, focusing on its tree farming practices.
- Team members began to wonder what farmers saw as the primary constraints to their production. So again we planned and implemented a small, indepth survey to find out.
V. Research of Anthropological Interest. Although I have seen my role on this project as supportive, by and large, I also
felt some commitment to do some research of a more scientific nature---research on global concerns in social science. One of the first studies I initiated on coming to Sitiung, besides the collaborative research with farmers, was a time allocation study. I knew we'd want to know what people were engaged in, how much time was spent on what activities, and who was doing what. The time allocation study mentioned above has done double duty in this regard. Since I have used the same method in -four
communities and among four ethnic groups, useful comparisons and generalizations are possible.
My Galileo study measuring perceptions of soil as they differed by ethnic group was not dictated by specific team needs so much as by the absence of information on people's perceptions of soil. Such a study seemed a legitimate contribution to soil management in and of itself, since people's behaviour toward the soil is influenced by their perceptions of it. It also has significant possibilities for use in extension.
The related "Indigenouls Knowledge Study" aims to compare the "soil science" of the Minang with that of the soil scientists. Do the Minang,. thoroughly familiar with this environment, recognize important differentiations that have escaped our notice? Do their methods of choosing good land mesh with our own? Do they alter their soil management practices by land type, and if so, how? And so on.
The above discussion is intended to provide clarification to those uncertain about the nature of anthropological input on a soil management research project.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources TROPSOIL Project e Soil Management CRSP
Department of Agronomy and Soil Science
2500 Dole Street Krauss Hall 22 Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 Telephone: (808) 948-8858 Cable Address: UNIHAW
February 3, 1986
Mr. Richard A. Cobb
Office of Agriculture
& Rural Development
USAID/AGR Box 4
APO San Francisco 96356-5000
Dear Mr. Cobb:
Within the next six months, the Indonesia TropSoils Project will undergo a complete change in senior staff. Two new scientists, Drs. Lalit Arya and Ron Guyton, are being readied for assignment in Indonesia and we plan to advertise for Carol Colfer's replacement as soon as we learn more about our budget situation. The tight budget situation and the change in personnel offer us a timely opportunity to reassess our current objectives and to set new priorities for our activities in Indonesia.
The purpose of this letter is to explore the possibility of a meeting of Indonesian, USAID Mission and TropSoils representatives to discuss and jointly develop a plan of action for the TropSoils Project that would be acceptable to all parties. I firmly believe that for the TropSoils Project to be effective, its activities must be consistent with the agricultural development goals set by the Mission and Indonesian government. For this reason, I hope you will not only agree to such a meeting, but will strongly endorse it.
If all parties agree to such a plan, we are prepared to meet with you, your staff and Indonesian representatives at a place and time of your choice. The obvious place would be the USAID Mission in Jakarta, but we are also prepared to host the meeting at the University of Hawaii. A meeting in Hawaii will enable the group to see the full problem-solving capability the university can bring to bear on soil-related constraints in Indonesia. Some of this capability is being condensed in microcomputer software for distribution and application in Indonesia.
A convenient meeting time for us would be the week of March 24 when we will be free of teaching duties.
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
Mr. R. A. Cobb February 3, 1986 Page 2
I look forward to hearing from you.
Goro Uehara Program Coordinator
cc: C. Colfer
S. E1-Swaify C. B. McCants P. A. Sanchez
G. Y. Tsuji
TROPSOILS PLAN OF WORK
October 1986 September 1987
(prepared May 30, 1986)
I. Goal The principal goal of the TropSoils program is to uncover principles which will enable resource-poor farmers to adopt soil management practices that will increase farm productivity and family income, and at the same time preserve land quality for future generations. The research strategy is designed to ensure that social, cultural, economic and environmental factors that enhance adoption of soil management innovations are made an integral part of the research plan.
II. General Objectives The overall objective of the Indonesia TropSoils Project is to establish a decision support system that will:
- integrate TropSoils research with the national agricultural development
- produce user-oriented decision models by adding farmer knowledge to the
- render soil management experimental results directly useful for
decision making; and
- increase efficiency of soils-related research.
III. Activities and Associated Personnel TropSoils is a collaborative project between the Centre for Soil Research, the University of Hawaii, and North Carolina State University. Since it is impossible to separate the Indonesian and American components of the project precisely, the research described herein is that which will be conducted or directly supervised by UH and NCSU.
The anticipated project team will include Ron Guyton (senior agronomist), Lalit Arya (senior soil physicist), Carl Evensen (junior agronomist), Stacy Evensen (nutritionist), Stephenie Kan (junior agricultural economics graduate student), unnamed senior farming systems researcher with interest/experience in extension, and an unnamed junior agroforester. Changes and additions may occur due to funding uncertainties, and the unavailability of new team members to participate in this planning process.
The following six major categories summarize our Indonesian on-site program. Rationale, activities, and personnel requirements are listed for each:
1. Liming and Soil Fertility
Various lime trials have been done in Sitiung. The initial results have been consistent with published information regarding soil acidity on similar soils in other parts of the world. However, there is a noticeable lack of long term lime studies on soils in Indonesia, as well as in the humid tropics in general. Now we have the opportunity to study long term aspects of liming as indicated below:
Maintenance: Studying annual lime application for maintaining an
established or desired level of acidity.
Residual: Duration or length of effectiveness of a single application.
Downward Movement of Ca into the soil profile and its effect on crop
Effectiveness of lime on various soil types.
Phosphorus: The studies on phosphorus have consistently indicated a very strong response to P fertilizer on previously unfertilized soils, but relatively
low rates of both initial and maintenance applications have been sufficient to establish and maintain plateau crop yields. A more indepth look at the maintenance or longterm phosphorus fertilizer requirements needs to be done. Also, experimentation of the interaction of phosphorus with lime has recently been initiated and should be continued.
Potassium: There has been a remarkable response to K fertilizer on
Sitiung soils, requiring high rates and frequent applications to provide plateau yields of most food crops. Apparently potassium leaches very rapidly from the soil and at least one study (effect of organic materials on the replenishment of potassium and curtailment of leaching) should be continued. Conservation of potassium will be critical to establishing viable and continuous crop production.
Micronutrients: No experimentation has been initiated to date by TropSoils on micronutrients. We have not witnessed any identifiable deficiencies in either our research plots or farmer fields. However, a survey of plant tissue from various locations and crops would help establish the general micronutrient status of the soils and relevance of future research on that subject.
All of the above topics will provide experimental data that can be used by the CSR soil testing program, led by I. P. Gedjer Widjaja-Adhi, to help establish valid indices for making lime and fertilizer recommendations, using an expert system. The established trials will be supervised by Ron Guyton, and new trials will be done in collaboration with anticipated new CSR personnel.
2. Soil and Water Conservation Work to date by TropSoils has illustrated that soil moisture shortages, soil erosion, and excessive runoff are serious problems in West Sumatra. Despite 2500-3000mm of annual rainfall, crops suffer from moisture stress that eventually results in serious reductions in yields.
Crop roots appear to be confined within the depth of tillage, which is manually performed with a hoe to a depth of ten to fifteen cm. This shallow
rooting depth reduces the amount of water stored in the soil that is available to the plants. Thus, crops cannot utilize any of the soil moisture stored below a depth of 6 inches. There is reason to believe that a further major restriction to root development is the presence of toxic levels of aluminum below the depth of tillage and, therefore below the depth of lime incorporation.
Neutralizing soil acidity creates favorable conditions for root growth and a favorable chemical environment for nutrient availability
Soil moisture storage is affected by internal drainage conditions.
Although the West Sumatra soils are clayey, many of them are composed of stable aggregates. We believe that much of the infiltrated water rapidly drains below the root zone. It may be possible to alter the soils structure to impede this internal drainage, thus increasing soil moisture storage in the root zone.
On the steeper cultivated slopes, excessive runoff and soil erosion occur quite easily. A large portion of the rainfall that otherwise could be stored in the soil profile is lost to runoff. Continued removal of topsoil, which holds the limited amount of plant nutrients results in a serious decline in productivity. The problem is most serious for resource-poor farmers because they cannot easily replenish the lost nutrients and other inputs to restore soil productivity. It is imperative that management practices developed for farmers in this region be conservation-effective practices in order to sustain economic crop production in this humid environment.
During 1986-1987, the major focus of research will be oriented toward the following objectives:
Determining the extent and rate of downward movement of lime and the
effect on root development and water absorption;
- Characterizing the available water retention properties of soils in the
- Investigating the effect of residues, both surface and incorporated, on
water retention and soil losses;
- Exploring the potential of various conservation effective farming
- Investigating the effects of current and revised tillage practices on
soil and water conservation.
Anticipated non-CSR personnel involved in this project will include Lalit Arya and a junior scientist. Involvement by the farming systems researcher in the study is expected.
3. Organic Material and Forage Management The marked response of some crops to green manure in previous experiments in Sitiung has suggested that the proper management of organic materials might reduce the need for lime and fertilizers on Sitiung farms. Also, the importance of livestock and difficulties in finding adequate feed has suggested the need to assess more productive forage systems. A series of experiments has been initiated in Sitiung to 1) quantify the influence of green manures on crop yields, 2) evaluate fertilizer and herbaceous legumes and forage grasses for use on transmigrant farms, and 3) to incorporate information from Sitiung transmigrants in the-selection and design of green manure and forage management systems. These are:
Alley Cropping: There is presently one experiment being conducted to
determine the green manure and wood productivity of three legume trees at three levels of lime application and their influence on intercropped food crops.
Source and Application Method of Green Manure: Two experiments are
being conducted to compare methods of production and application of two species of herbaceous legumes.
Forage Crop Evaluation: Two experiments are underway designed to select promising forage and green manure species and determine their fertilizer requirements.
Compost: A farmer-managed experiment is being conducted in Sitiung home gardens to compare crop response to compost, farmyard manure, inorganic fertilizers and fishpond sludge; and to assess the interest of farmers in these different fertilizers and amendments.
Carl Evensen and Russell Yost in Hawaii are the primary researchers in
this series of experiments. For the composting trials, Carl will be assisted by Stacy Evensen and the farming systems researcher.
4. Agroforestry The farming system of the indigenous population of Sitiung includes shifting cultivation which culminates in tree crops (rubber, coffee, fruit trees). A variety of tree crops are also grown on transmigrant home gardens. The appropriateness and advantages of tree crops in the Sitiung environment are now obvious, including tolerance to soil acidity, reduced risk of pests, soil conservation, more effective use of available soil moisture, more reliable cash incomes, and lower human labor requirements. It appears that the development of improved soil management practices for field crops alone will 1) not result in a satisfactory income for transmigrants, and 2) is not consistent with the farming system of the indigenous population at all. The following activities have high priority:
Legume Tree Evaluation: This experiment has been undertaken in
collaboration with NFTA, investigating the nitrogen contribution of these leguminous trees, and assessing suitability for the Sitiung environment.
Food-Tree Intercrop: Ideally a whole series of experiments would be
initiated which use these kinds of crop mixtures. Such experiments could focus on soil fertility, soil biology, soil physical and/or conservation questions.
leguminous trees, and assessing suitability for the Sitiung environment.
Food-Tree Intercrop: Ideally a whole series of experiments would be
initiated which use these kinds of crop mixtures. Such experiments could focus on soil fertility, soil biology, soil physical and/or conservation questions.
The legume tree evaluation is being undertaken by Carl Evensen. The planned agroforestry graduate student would be responsible for the series of experiments called "Food-Tree Intercrop". This would be an ideal context in which to collaborate with another institution such as the Horticulture research station in Solok, the Abai Siat Rubber Replanting Project in the Sitiung area, or the NES coconut project in Rimbo Bujang.
5. Extrapolation Soil management research on infertile, strongly acid, Red Yellow Podzolic soils of Indonesia by the TropSoils Project has uncovered three major soil constraints that restrict crop yields. These are aluminum toxicity, and severe phosphorus and potassium deficiencies. Project personnel have developed a computerized expert system that enables extension agent to make recommendations to neutralize toxic aluminum with lime or organic matter. The research on phosphorus shows that although the soils are severely deficient in this element, the problem can be corrected with relatively low initial, and still lower maintenance, rates. In the case of potassium, rapid leaching of this nutrient from the root zone into the toxic subsoil renders this element more difficult to manage in these soils than similar clay soils elsewhere in the world. Research, however, proves that lime and organic matter improve the potassium fertilizer use efficiency by crops.
This two part activity is designed to test the technical, economic and social suitability of TropSoils research findings in farmer fields.
The first part consists of testing the accuracy of the lime rates
recommended by an expert system, and establishing the range of transferability
of the low phosphorus fixation rate, the high potassium leaching rate and the effectiveness of green manure to counter the toxic effects of aluminum in acid, Red Yellow Podzolic soils of Indonesia. In addition, efforts will be made to incorporate the diverse kinds of social science input into an expert systems designed to predict the crops likely to be grown.
In line with the farming systems approach being utilized, the technologies and systems identified as promising must be tested under farmer conditions. A tentative set of "Best Management Practices" has been identified and the process of testing the systems will be initiated. Similarly, two or three "special studies" on aspects of the farming systems can be expected, dictated by observations and information needs of the team. One, year-long study that will be completed is the characterization of home gardens. An enterprise record keeping study is being initiated and will be partially completed during this year.
The work in Sitiung will be carried out with the assistance of local
extension agents. To do so, appropriate contacts with extension officials and provincial administrators will be required.
In addition, the project will require the services of an economist to evaluate the benefits that accrue to users of the technology. The Farming Systems Researcher will evaluate farmer reactions to the innovation and the likelihood of their retaining the technology, as well as providing ongoing feedback to other members of the team on matters related to farmer acceptance of technology. Continued support is anticipated from Perry Philipp, Hal McArthur, Kathy Wilson, and Carol Dixon at the University of Hawaii.
The development of the decision support system will continue at the University of Hawaii, under the leadership of Goro Uehara, Russell Yost and Steve Itoga.
6. Linkages The goals and objectives of TropSoils are closely related to these many other programs and institutions in Indonesia. The total accomplishments of these programs can be increased by periodic interaction to share relevant information, and by working collaboratively where mutually beneficial results can be achieved. Since its beginning in Indonesia, TropSoils has had a highly beneficial collaborative relationship with the Centre for Soil Research. However, there appear to be additional opportunities to add to this success.
As a means to initiate these actions, the following are suggested:
a. Continue the major collaborative effort with the Centre for Soil
Research in the same manner as has existed from the beginning of the
b. Appoint a joint committee to devise a plan and promote the
extrapolation of current technology on the proper use of lime. The
composition of the committee would include a representative from CSR,
one from Extension and one from TropSoils.
C. Initiate an exchange of the Annual Work Plans between the TropSoils
program and the SARIF program in Sitiung.
d. Conduct and annual joint meeting to review the accomplishments of each
program during the past year, and the plans for activities during the
e. Maintain a sensitivity to the opportunities which may arise for
collaboration with other institutions which could be mutually
7. Constraints Major constraints to accomplishing the activities identified above, in addition to uncontrollable environmental factors, are personnel staffing and adequate funds for operations.
The level of funding from TropSoils to support operating expenses, is most uncertain. This is due in part to the uncertainty of actions by the U.S. Congress and in part to the competing demands for TropSoils funds from components of the program in other countries. While every effort will be made by the Management Entity to maximize the funding for TropSoils Indonesia, substantial additional support will be required to conduct fully the activities set forth above.
University of Hawaii at Manoa
College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources TROPSOIL-Project-. Soil Management CRSP
Department of Agronomy and Soil Science
2500 Dole Street a Krauss Hall 22 Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 Telephone: (808) 948-8858 Cable Address: UNIHAW
February 24, 1987
Dr. C.B. McCants
Director, Management Entity
Soil Management CRSP
N. C. State University
P. 0. Box 7113
Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7113
I am sure you were as disappointed as I was of the outcome of the
Indonesia TropSoils program review. Larry Apple has told Hal McArthur that the review went badly. My feeling is that the review document will be more a reflection of the continuing disagreements between you and me than a true assessment of program quality. A program that sometimes receives compliments from the USAID Mission must have some good qualities.
I am writing this letter to propose a plan which will ensure that future disagreements between you and me do not spill over into, and damage the program. This is not to say that you and I should not disagree in the future. I believe a certain amount of tension is healthy and can be channeled to serve useful ends.
As we now operate, you and I seem to be headed in different directions to the detriment of the project. I have spent an inordinate amount of energy getting farming systems research, geostatistics and expert systems accepted. I now find myself in the same situation with modeling and decision support systems. It almost seems as if success in Indonesia is acceptable only if it occurs on your terms. My fears were confirmed when I heard from one of the panel members in Sitiung that Mike Wade was coming to Indonesia to develop work plans for the TropSoils project. It appeared to me that the recommendations of the review panel had already been decided before the review had begun.
I could accept that plan if the TropSoils program were on the verge of
being asked by the Mission to leave the country. But the opposite is true, and furthermore, Mike did not leave Sitiung voluntarily, but was forced to do so by
District Officials. While we all supported Mike during that period, to invite him back to Sitiung would only open old wounds. Lalit and Ron were called in by District Officials and interrogated to ascertain whether the incident that
led to Mike's expulsion from Sitiung might recur.
My choice would be to invite Vickie Sigman to a project planning meeting in Sitiung if she is selected as the social scientist for the project. She
AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER
Dr. C.B. McCants
February 24, 1987
knows a great deal about the project, having put together a case study of the project after two visits to Sitiung. *-She also -must -develop work plans that coincide with her interests and skills. But here again, we will probably disagree. When I wrote to you about filling the vacant social scientist position, you clearly indicated that you did not believe Vickie was the right person for the position.
You and I want the TropSoils program to succeed. The responsibility of making the program successful rests with me. By imposing your agenda on the project, you create uncertainties about where we are headed. I also find myself in a position whereby I am blamed for failures but not credited for
successes. I would like to be in a position where I am fully responsible for both failures and successes.
I propose that responsibility for all future program planning be delegated to the program coordinator. The program coordinator will seek the advice of the Management Entity in matters such as funding and country clearance, but will be fully responsible for staffing and technical planning. The Management Entity also has the administrative responsibility to see that the program conforms to the intent of the CRSP.
There is much unfinished business from the old agreement between the
Management Entity and the University of Hawaii. I hope these issues will not detract from the need to maintain a program whose success is fully in the hands of the program coordinator.
If the Government of Indonesia and the Mission agree to some form of the proposal we submitted to Joanne Hale, we will need to meet with them in the near future to develop work plans. It will be more efficient for the program coordinator to have full responsibility to contact the Mission and Indonesian agencies to initiate the process.
I realize that the Indonesia TrapSoils program cannot o perate effectively without the full support of the Management Entity, but we need to have a clear understanding of what this support entails. I have stated my position so that the actions I take in the future come as no surprise to you.
I look forward to working with you towards the goal of making the
Indonesia TropSoils program a truly outstanding example of the meaning of CRSP.
GU~ssProgram Coordinator cc: R. Smith
G. Y. Tsuji
A PLAN TO STRENGTHEN THE TROPSOILS TEAM
The purpose of this report is to outline actions which the University of Hawaii proposes to take to strengthen the TropSoils research-team in- Sitiung, West Sumatra. This report focuses primarily on the activities of two University of Hawaii senior scientists, Drs. Lalit Arya and Ron Guyton. Since TropSoils is a collaborative project between Indonesian research organizations and U.S. Universities, and may, in the near future involve the USAID Mission, the proposed strengthening activities will require the concurrence of all project partners. The areas to be strengthened include: (1) language proficiency, (2) team building and working as a team, (3) communication and reporting (4) funding and financial management, and (5) expediting administrative details. Procedures for measuring the effect of each of the above areas on team performance are provided.
1. Language Proficiency
When the first TropSoils team arrived in Sitiung, two of the three
senior scientists spoke fluent Indonesian, had several years experience
living in rural Indonesia, and had indicated a preference to live in
villages with the local people than to occupy newly constructed houses near
the city of Solok offered to the team by the former Director of the then,
Soil Research Institute. The Soil Research Institute Director and the USAID
project monitor expressed strong reservations about permitting foreign
scientists to live among the local people. Time proved the team's decision
to be the right one, and because of the team's close proximity to people, it
was able to work with farmers and to match TropSoils research to farmer
needs. Fluency in Indonesian was a critical factor for conducting research on farmer fields with farmers. This factor is as critical today as it was
b. Action Taken
Prior to leaving for Indonesia, Drs. Arya and Guyton were given an
intensive short course in Indonesian at the University of Hawaii. Their
hope that their language skills would improve with use and time in Sitiung has been slower than expected. In view of this, Dr. Arya has obtained the service of a language teacher from Padang to give language lessons to the two senior scientists and their wives. The instruction began on March 15,
1987. The project pays for salary and living costs for the instructor.
The program coordinator will ask the Indonesian Project Country
Coordinator and Project Site Coordinator to offer their assessment of the
senior scientists' ability to communicate in Indonesian to non-English
speaking technicians and to non-English speaking farmers. Their assessments
will be used to judge senior scientists' progress in language proficiency
with the aim to achieve acceptable performance six months from the starting
date of March 15, 1987.
2. Team Building and Working as a Team
In an article entitled "Social Science and Soil Management" by Carol
Colfer which appeared in the Farming Systems Support Project Newsletter
(article attached), Dr. Colfer states:
"Several factors may have contributed to the
particular operating style we developed. First,
we had a 'team building' period in Honolulu before
we went to the field which emphasized the
existence of difference in approach between
disciplines and the importance of our coming to
understand each others' research styles. .
This team building exercise was crucial to team performance in Sitiung. It was a team decision to live among transmigrants in the villages, and it was a team decision to employ a farming systems approach to soil management research. But the decision on the part of the University of Hawaii to hire an anthropologist instead of another soil scientist was the major cause for the particular operating style that emerged out of the Indonesia TropSoils project. The need for a social scientist on the team is as important today as before. As another anthropologist from the International Potato Center said "social scientists serve as cultural brokers between researchers and the farmers."
The team does not now have the critical mass of researchers to do work of value to farmers. It needs, as a minimum, four senior scientists to meet its bio-physical and socio-economic requirements. Dr. Guyton was hired to fill the biological needs of the project and Dr. Arya for the physical needs. Dr. Guyton is crops-oriented, whereas Dr. Arya is physics-oriented. The team needs a social scientist and an economist. Under the current budget situation, such a team can be assembled only if the Soil Management CRSP, the Government of Indonesia and the USAID Mission agree to pool their resources to support the project.
b. Action Taken
In a letter to the TropSoils Management Entity dated 3 July 1986, the University of Hawaii program coordinator requested approval to hire a social scientist to replace Dr. Colfer. The request was denied (letter attached). A second request (-July 16, 1986) reiterating the urgent need to hire a social scientist was similarly denied. c. Action Required.
Since the Management Entity is unwilling or unable to provide funds to support a social scientist, this position must be filled with funds from other sources. In view of the USAID Mission expression of interest in supporting the project, this position is one that we would encourage the Mission to fill. In this regard, Dr. Vickie Sigman, a social scientist with expertise in training and agricultural extension has expressed strong interest in applying for such a position. Dr. Sigman is currently stationed in Bandung, Indonesia and will be available in June or July 1987. If she is given assurance of such an opportunity, she will immediately undertake intensive language training to upgrade her Indonesian language skills. Dr. Sigman has twice visited the Sitiung site and has prepared a case study of Dr. Colfer's work. She, like Dr. Colfer, enjoys village life in Sitiung.
We have also been advised that two agroeconomists are currently stationed in Sukarami. They participated in an agroeconomic workshop conducted by Dr. Harrington in Sitiung last year. When the review team visited Sukarami in February 1987, Dr. Sarifuddin expressed strong interest in collaborating with the TropSoils project. It is likely that given an opportunity to participate in the development of a mutually beneficial work plan, Dr. Sarifuddin will permit one of the agroeconomists to join the TropSoils team.
We need to take early action to obtain an indication of the USAID
Mission's and Sukarami's willingness to strengthen the TropSoils project
team in this way.
Assuming that a team consisting of a biological, a physical, and two
junior scientists supported by the Soil Management CRSP, a social scientist
supported by the Mission, an agroeconomist supported by the Sukarami
Station, and several senior and junior scientists supported by the Center
for Soil Research can be assembled, such a team must meet together to
participate in a team building workshop. An output of the workshop would be
a detailed work plan for the TropSoils project specifying the role of each
participant in attaining the objectives, the activities involved, and their
The success of the team building exercise will be measured by the
quality of the work plan that is produced. Team performance in the months
ahead will be evaluated on the basis of its adherence to the work plan;
visits by Mission, AARD, and Soil Management CRSP staff; and periodic on
site reviews by the external evaluation panel.
3. Communication and Reporting
The team communicates its activities and research findings to others
through the following mechanisms: (1) trip reports; (2) monthly financial reports prepared by individual scientists and organized and compiled by the Team Leader; (3) bi-monthly field status reports; (4) field research briefs
containing experimental data and research results, interpretations and conclusions; (5) annual reports; (6) invited talks and papers and; (7)
b. Action Required
The team will continue to prepare these reports and submit copies to
the following: (1) the Center for Soil Research, (2) the Sukarami Station,
(3) the USAID Mission, (4) the Management Entity of the Soil Management
CRSP, and (5) the University of Hawaii.
The team will be judged on the basis of the quality and timeliness of
4. Funding and Financial Management
Owing to budget cuts, the Management Entity recommended that the number
of senior expatriate staff in Sitiung be reduced from three to two.
However, the budget cut of 51% does not permit the CRSP component of the
TropSoils project to support two senior scientists in Indonesia. To be
effective contributors to the TropSoils project involving AARD, Mission and
CRSP personnel, the CRSP scientists must be adequately supported by the CRSP
b. Action Required
(1) The University of Hawaii will make a.request to the Management
Entity to increase the budget for the CRSP component of the
Indonesia TropSoils project.
(2) The University of Hawaii will prepare monthly financial reports
detailing the financial contributions of the CRSP component to the
TropSoils project. The CRSP component team leader will be
responsible for preparing and distributing this report.
(3) It would be useful to assign an individual team member from the AARD
units and the USAID Mission to prepare similar monthly financial
reports for distribution to all participating groups.
Timely submission of financial reports which accurately reflect the
contribution of each component will be the measure of success for this.
5. Expediting Administrative Details
An inordinate amount of scientist time is spent in clearing shipments,
purchasing or repairing equipment, renewing passports, visas, etc.,
preparing for site visit, and sending messages by telex and telephone.
b. Action Required
The TropSoils project and other CRS? projects operating in Indonesia
need to maintain an office in Jakarta to expedite processing of the above.
A quantitative assessment of savings in scientist time and travel cost
can show the cost-effectiveness of maintaining an expediting office in
The University of Hawaii is prepared to discuss these actions with the Indonesian organization and the Mission. It believes that these actions will enable the new team to equal and even surpass the performance of the first team that arrived in Sitiung in 1983.