Atmosphere 2013, 4(4), 383-410; doi:10.3390/atmos4040383
Article

Use of Traditional Weather/Climate Knowledge by Farmers in the South-Western Free State of South Africa: Agrometeorological Learning by Scientists

1email, 2,3,* email and 4email
Received: 3 September 2013; in revised form: 29 September 2013 / Accepted: 25 October 2013 / Published: 13 November 2013
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: The variety of natural indicators, associated with weather forecasting and climate prediction, as used by farmers in the South-Western Free State province of South Africa, is described. Most farmers in this area were not familiar with the application of weather forecasts/climate predictions for agricultural production, or with other science-based agrometeorological products. They relied almost fully on their experience and traditional knowledge for farming decision making. The indicators for traditional knowledge are demonstrated here in broad terms, relying on the stories and indications from observations and years of experience of their use by the farmers. These means of engagement with the natural environment, are skills not well understood by most scientists, but useful to the farmers. They range from the constellation of stars, animal behavior, cloud cover and type, blossoming of certain indigenous trees, appearance and disappearance of reptiles, to migration of bird species and many others. It is suggested that some short-term traditional forecasts/predictions may be successfully merged with science-based climate predictions. The traditional knowledge and its use, reported on in this paper, is what scientists learned from farmers. Berkes was right that scholars have wasted too much time and effort on a science versus traditional knowledge debate; we should reframe it instead as a science and traditional knowledge dialogue and partnership. The complications of a changing climate make this even more necessary.
Keywords: farmer traditional knowledge; agrometeorological learning; weather/climate forecasts/predictions; science-based agrometeorological advisories/services
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zuma-Netshiukhwi, G.; Stigter, K.; Walker, S. Use of Traditional Weather/Climate Knowledge by Farmers in the South-Western Free State of South Africa: Agrometeorological Learning by Scientists. Atmosphere 2013, 4, 383-410.

AMA Style

Zuma-Netshiukhwi G, Stigter K, Walker S. Use of Traditional Weather/Climate Knowledge by Farmers in the South-Western Free State of South Africa: Agrometeorological Learning by Scientists. Atmosphere. 2013; 4(4):383-410.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zuma-Netshiukhwi, Gugulethu; Stigter, Kees; Walker, Sue. 2013. "Use of Traditional Weather/Climate Knowledge by Farmers in the South-Western Free State of South Africa: Agrometeorological Learning by Scientists." Atmosphere 4, no. 4: 383-410.

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