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close this bookResource Management for Upland Areas in Southeast Asia - An Information Kit (IIRR, 1995, 207 p.)
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Glossary terms


acid soil A soil with a pH value < 7.0. Usually applied to surface layer or root zone, but may be used to characterize any horizon.

agrisilviculture A form of agroforestry consisting of tree (woody perennial) and crop components.

agroecosystem analysis Developed by Gordon Conway and Khon Kaen University researchers (Thailand) in the early 1980s. It is often used in the diagnostic or planning stage and utilizes tools for pattern analysis.

agroforestry The use of trees in farming systems (see Chapter 2).

agrosilvopasture A form of agroforestry consisting of tree (woody perennial), crop and pasture/animal components.

alkali soil A soil that contains sufficient alkali to interfere with the growth of most crop plants.

alley cropping/farming Growing annual crops between rows of trees or shrubs, often leguminous. Pruned material from these is used as mulch around annual crops and also as fodder and fuelwood.

alluvial soil A soil developing from recently deposited alluvium and exhibiting essentially no horizon development or modification of the recently deposited materials.

annual plant A plant that grows for only one season (or year) before dying, in contrast to a perennial, which grows for more than one season. apiculture Honeybee rearing.

arid climate Climate in regions that lack sufficient moisture for crop production without irrigation. In cool regions, annual precipitation is usually less than 25 cm. It may be as high as 50 cm in tropical regions. Natural vegetation is desert shrubs.


bench terrace An embankment constructed across sloping fields with a steep drop on the downslope side.

biennial plant A plant which completes its life cycle in two years. Plants of this type usually produce leaves and a welldeveloped root system the first year; stems, flowers and seeds the second year; and then die.

biomass The weight of material produced by a living organism or collection of organisms. The term is usually applied to plants to include the entire plant, or it may be qualified to include only certain parts of the plant, e.g., aboveground or leafy biomass. Biomass is expressed as fresh weight or dry weight. bole The main tree trunk.

browse The buds, shoots, leaves and flowers of woody plants are eaten by livestock or wild animals.

budding The practice of splicing a bud from one tree into the bark of another, usually to obtain highquality fruit on hardy, established trees.

bund A ridge of earth placed in a line to control water runoff and soil erosion, demarcate a plot boundary, or other uses.

bush A small woody plant (see shrub).


canopy The upper layer of trees in a forest or a complex of trees.

carbon/nitrogen ratio The ratio of the weight of organic carbon (C) to the weight of total nitrogen (N) in a soil or organic material.

cereal A grass that is grown primarily for its seed which is used for feed or food.

clump A close grouping of stems of trees, bushes, or grasses.

community forestry A form of social forestry, where tree planting is undertaken by a community on common or communal lands.

component species Individual species that are parts of mixed systems.

contour An imaginary line connecting points of equal elevation on the surface of the soil. A contour terrace is laid out on a slope at right angles to the direction of the slope and nearly level throughout its course. A contour ditch is sometimes constructed along the contour to store and conserve water.

coppicing Cutting certain tree species close to ground level to produce new shoots from the stump. Also occurs naturally in some species if the trees are damaged.

cover crop A close-growing crop grown primarily for the purpose of protecting and improving soil between periods of regular crop production or between trees and vines in orchards and plantations.

crop growth rate The gain in weight of a plant on a unit of area in a unit of time.

crop residue The portion of a plant or crop that is left in the field after harvest, e.g., rice straw.

cropping pattern The yearly sequence and spatial arrangement of crops or of crops and fallow on a given area.

cropping system The cropping patterns used on a farm and their interaction with farm resources, other farm enterprises and available technology which determine their makeup.

crown The canopy or top of a single tree or other woody plant.

cut-and-carry Fodder or other plant products which are harvested and carried to a different location to be used or consumed by livestock.

cutting A piece of a branch or root cut from a living plant with the objective of developing roots and growing a new plant, genetically identical to the original parent (a clone).


deciduous plant A plant that sheds all or most of its leaves every year at a certain season. The opposite of evergreen.

deforestation Disturbance, conversion, or wasteful destruction of forest lands.

denitrification The biochemical reduction of nitrate or nitrite to gaseous nitrogen, either as molecular nitrogen or as an oxide of nitrogen.

diagnosis and design Developed by ICRAF in the early 1980s as a methodology for the diagnosis of land management problems and the design of agroforestry solutions.

direct seeding Sowing seeds directly where they are to develop into mature plants.

discounting The process of determining the present worth of a future quantity of money.

drought The absence of precipitation for a period long enough to cause depletion of soil moisture and damage to plants.

drought tolerance The capacity of plants to survive drought; specifically adaptations that enhance their power to withstand drought-induced stress.


ecosystem All the plants and animals in a given area and their physical environment, including the interactions among them.

erosion (1) The wearing away of the land surface by running water, wind, ice, or other geological agents, including such processes as gravitational creep. (2) Detachment and movement of soil or rock by water, wind, ice, or gravity. The following terms are used to describe different types of water erosion:

accelerated erosion Erosion much more rapid than normal, natural, geological erosion; primarily as a result of the activities of humans or, in some cases, of animals.

gully erosion The removal of soil by water concentrated in deep, narrow channels.

natural erosion Wearing away of the earth's surface by water, ice, or other natural agents under natural environmental conditions of climate, vegetation and so on, undisturbed by humans.

rill erosion An erosion process in which numerous small channels of only several centimeters in depth are formed; occurs mainly on recently cultivated soils.

sheet erosion The removal of a fairly uniform layer of soil from the land surface by runoff water.

splash erosion The spattering of small soil and particles caused by the impact of raindrops on soils. The loosened and separate particles may or may not be subsequently removed by surface runoff.

evaporation Loss of moisture from surfaces other than plants.

evapotranspiration The combined loss of water from a given area and, during a specified period of time, by evaporation from the soil surface and by transpiration from plants.

evergreen Plants which retain their leaves and remain green throughout the year. Opposite of deciduous.

exotic A plant or animal species which has been introduced outside its natural range. Opposite of indigenous.

extensive Land use or management spread over a large area where land is plentiful (at least for those who control it). Opposite of intensive.


fallow Land resting from cropping, which may be grazed or left unused, often colonized by natural vegetation.

family A taxonomic category between order and genus. Plants or animals in the same family share some common characteristics.

farm-based agroforestry Agroforestry approach in which trees are incorporated into a farm ecosystem.

farm enterprise An individual crop or animal production function within a farming system.

farm forestry Tree planting on farms.

farming system All the elements of a farm which interact as a system, including people, crops, livestock, other vegetation, wildlife, the environment and the social, economic and ecological interactions between them.

farming systems research An applied problem-solving approach conducted by multi-disciplinary teams, with a degree of farmer participation. Evolved from cropping system research.

fertilizer Any organic or inorganic material which is added to the soil to supply one or more plant nutrients.

fodder Parts of plants which are eaten by domestic animals. These may include leaves, stems, fruit, pods, flowers, pollen, or nectar.

foliage The mass of leaves of plants, usually used for trees or bushes.

forage Vegetative material in a fresh, dried, or ensiled state which is fed to livestock (hay, pasture, silage).

forest-based agroforestry Agroforestry approach in which annual or perennial crops are incorporated into a natural forest ecosystem.


genetic resources Plant and animal stock with distinct inheritable characteristics of potential use within an agroecosystem.

genus A taxonomic category between family and species. A genus consists of one or more closely related species and, in plants, is defined largely in terms of the characteristics of the flower and/or fruit.

grafting The practice of propagating plants by taking a small shoot from one and attaching it to another so that the cambium layers from both are in contact and the transferred shoot grows as part of the main plant. This is normally used to obtain high-quality seedlings from hardy, well-established plants (rootstock).

green manure Green, leafy material applied to the soil to improve its fertility.

groundcover Living or nonliving material which covers the soil surface.

groundwater Water which is underground. It may be pumped to the surface or reached by plant roots or wells or may feed into bodies of surface water.

gully A deep, narrow channel cut into the soil by erosion. gully erosion (see erosion)


hedgerow or hedge A closely planted line of shrubs or small trees, often forming a boundary or fence.

herbaceous A plant that is not woody and does not persist above ground beyond one season.

herbivore An animal that feeds only on plants.

homegarden Traditional cropping practice around the house, usually includes fruit and fuel wood trees, vegetables, root crops, poultry and smaller livestock and sometimes a fishpond.

humid A climate in which rainfall exceeds potential evaporation during at least 9 months a year and usually more than 1500 mm annual rainfall.


indigenous Native to a specific area; not introduced. Opposite of exotic.

indigenous knowledge Local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society.

infiltration The downward movement of water into the soil.

infiltration rate The maximum rate at which water can enter a soil under specified conditions, including the presence of an excess of water.

in-row tillage The agronomic practice of continuous cultivation of crops in a narrow band of soil (or row).

intensive Land use or management concentrated in a small area of land. Opposite of extensive.

intercropping Growing two or more crops in the same field at the same time in a mixture.

interface The area where there is a positive or negative relationship between two entities, such as between a row of trees and a row of crops.

internal rate of return (IRR) The maximum rate of interest that a project can repay on loans while still recovering all investment and opportunity costs, or, the earning power of money invested in a particular venture.


land equivalent ratio (LER) The ratio of the area needed under monoculture to a unit area of intercropping to give an equal amount of yield.

landscape An area of land, usually between 10 and 100 square kilometers, including vegetation, built structures and natural features, seen from a particular viewpoint.

Iand-use-map sketching A method used in extension work, where farmers make sketches of their existing land and how they want to change the land.

Iand-use system The way in which land is used by a particular group of people with a specified area.

leaching The removal of soluble materials from the upper soil layer by water moving vertically down.

legume Any plant species from the family Leguminoseae (e.g., beans, peas), many of which have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen via bacteria in or on their roots.

litter The uppermost layer of organic material on the soil surface, including leaves, twigs, and flowers freshly fallen or slightly decomposed.

lopping Cutting one or more branches of a standing tree or shrub.


manuring Application of animal dung, compost or other organic material used to fertilize the soil.

microcatchment A small earthwork used to catch and direct rainfall to a crop or to livestock.

microclimate The temperature, sunlight, humidity and other climatic conditions in a small localized area (e.g., in a field or stand of trees).

mineralization The conversion of an element from an organic form to an inorganic state as a result of microbial decomposition.

mixed farming Cropping systems which involve the raising of crops, animals and/or trees.

mixed intercropping Growing two or more crops simultaneously with no distinct row arrangement.

monoculture The repetitive growing of the same, single crop on the same land.

mulch Plant or non-living materials used to cover the soil surface with the object of protecting the soil from the impact of rainfall, controlling weeds or moisture loss and, in some cases, fertilizing the soil.

multiple cropping Growing two or more crops in the same field in one year at the same time or one after the other.

multipurpose tree species Woody perennials which are grown to provide more than one product or service.

multistoried (sometimes written as multistoreyed) Relating to a vertical arrangement of plants so that they form distinct layers, from the lower (usually herbaceous) layer to the uppermost tree canopy.


natural vegetation The vegetative cover that would exist in a given area without interference from humans.

net present value (NPV) An indicator of a project's long-term value as estimated at the time of implementation; it is calculated by summing all the annual net costs or benefits over the prescribed life span of a project, discounted at a preselected rate.

nitrogen fixation The biological conversion of elemental nitrogen (N2) to organic combinations or to forms readily utilized in biological processes.

nitrogen cycle The sequence of chemical and biological changes undergone by nitrogen as it moves from the atmosphere into water, soil and living organisms and, upon death of these organisms (plants and animals), is recycled through a part or all of the entire process.


opportunity cost The economic value of a true sacrifice incurred by the choice of a given action.

overstory (or overstorey) The highest layer of vegetation, often the tree canopy, which grows over lower shrub or plant layers.


participatory rural appraisal (PRA) A set of facilitative and participatory technologies developed in the late 1980's by researchers and NGOs, to build upon local people's capabilities and to empower local people in the process.

pasture A portion of land covered with grasses or grasslegume mixtures suitable for grazing.

perennial plant A plant that grows for more than one year, in contrast to an annual, which grows for only one year (or season) before dying.

pH The negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion activity (concentration) of a soil. A pH of 7 is neutral; a pH of less than 7 is acidic, one higher than 7 is alkaline.

pollarding Cutting back the crown of a tree in order to harvest wood and browse to produce regrowth beyond the reach of animals and/or to reduce the shade cast by the crown.

productivity, soil The capacity of a soil for producing a specified plant or sequence of plants under a specified system of management. Productivity emphasizes the capacity of soil to produce plant products and should be expressed in terms of yields.

pruning Cutting back plant growth, including side branches or roots.


rapid rural appraisal (RRA) A set of techniques developed in the early 1980s by researchers at universities and international centers to improve data gathering in natural resource management programs.

reforestation Replanting of a forest which has been chopped down or destroyed by fire. regeneration Regrowth

relative humidity The ratio expressed as percent between the quantity of water vapor present and the maximum possible at given temperature and barometric pressure.

relay cropping Growing two or more crops with their growing seasons overlapping, e.g., the second crop is planted before the first crop is harvested.

rhizobia Bacteria capable of living symbiotically with higher plants, usually in nodules on the roots of legumes, from which they receive their energy and capable of converting atmospheric nitrogen to combined organic forms.

ridging Making long parallel raised strips of earth usually on the contours, into which seeds are sown.

root sucker A shoot arising from the root of a plant.

rotation In agriculture, changing the crops grown on a particular piece of land (or crops and fallow) from season to season. In forestry, the length of time between establishment and harvesting of a plantation or tree.

runoff The portion of the precipitation on an area that is discharged from the area through stream channels. That which is lost without entering the soil is stream is "surface runoff' and that which enters the soil before reaching the stream is called "groundwater runoff' or "seepage flow" from ground water.


sapling A young tree, no longer a seedling but not yet a pole, a few meters high and about 2.5 cm in diameter at breast height.

seedling A young stage of a plant grown from a seed.

selective cutting Harvesting specific tree species or individuals in a forest and leaving the rest untouched.

semiarid Term applied to regions or climates where moisture is more plentiful than in arid regions but still definitely limits the growth of most crop plants. Natural vegetation in uncultivated areas is short grasses, shrubs and small trees.

sequential cropping Growing two or more crops in sequence on the same field per year. The succeeding crop is planted after the preceding crop has been harvested.

shifting cultivation A form of agriculture in which soil fertility is maintained by rotating fields rather than crops. New plots are usually cleared by "slash and burn" and cropped until soil exhaustion. The land is then left to regenerate naturally while cultivation is done elsewhere.

shrub A woody plant that remains less than 10 meters tall and produces shoots or stems from its base (see bush).

silvopastoral system A form of agroforestry system consisting of trees (woody perennials) and pasture/animal components.

situation-specific analysis An appraisal/diagnostic method developed by Chiangmai University in northern Thailand to examine interactions between local resource management system and dynamics of the system under a specific environment.

slope The incline or angle of the land surface, which can be measured as a percent or ratio or in degrees or grades.

small farm (small holding, farm household, small farmer) A farm that is at the same time a home and a business enterprise so that farm-management decisions are made, based on household needs as well as business interests.

social forestry The practice of using trees and/or tree planting specifically to pursue social objectives, usually betterment of the poor, through delivery of the benefits to the local people.

soil conservation A combination of all management and land-use methods that safeguard the soil against depletion or deterioration caused by nature and/or humans.

soil organic matter The organic fraction of the soil that includes plant and animal residues at various stages of decomposition, cells and tissues of soil organisms and substances synthesized by soil organisms.

sole cropping One crop variety grown alone in pure stand at normal density. Opposite of intercropping/mixed cropping.

species A taxonomic category below genus. A very closely related group of individual organisms which forms the basic unit for naming and classification according to distinguishable genetic characteristics.

staggered (planting, harvesting) Referring to activities carried out at different times or locations, instead of synchronized to occur at the same time or place.

stover The mature, cured stalks of maize or sorghum from which the grain has been removed.

stress Any factor that disturbs the normal functioning of an organism.

strip cropping Planting of alternate strips of grasses, or grains with other crops on contours in order to conserve moisture and decrease erosion.

subhumid In the tropics, a climate with average annual rainfall of 900-1500 mm.

succession An orderly process of change in a community (of plants, animals) that results from modification of the environment by organisms and culminates in a system attaining steady state, or climax.

sucker A side shoot from the roots of a plant; a side growth arising from an axillary bud.


taungya The intercropping of agricultural crops during the first years of forest plantation establishment.

tenure The right to property, granted by custom or law, which may include land, trees and other plants, animals and water.

terraces Soil and water conservation structures established on sloping lands to reduce the runoff of soil and water down the slope.

thinning An intermediate cutting aimed primarily at controlling the growth of a tree stand by adjusting stand density.

tiller An erect or semi-erect, secondary stem in grass species (such as rice).

topography The physical description of land; changes in elevation due to hills, valleys and other features.

transect walk A systematic walk with (small) farmer groups on their land to identify land uses and problems and to discuss potential improvements.

transpiration The loss of moisture from plants in the form of water vapor.


understory The lower layer of vegetation, often grasses, shrubs or crops that grow under taller vegetation.


viability The capability of living and developing in a given environment or, in the case of a technology, of being practiced in the long term.


water harvesting Collection and storage in a tank or in the soil of water (either runoff or streamflow) for securing water availability for crop growth, or animal and human consumption.

woody Plants which consist in part of wood; not herbaceous.


zero-grazing Livestock production systems in which the animals are fed in pens or other confined areas and are not permitted to graze.


Delorit, R.J., L.J. Greub, and H.L Ahlgren. (eds.) 1974. Crop production. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA.

Gardner, F.P., R.B. Pearce, and R.L Mitchell. 1985. Physiology of crop plants. Iowa State University Press, Ames, Iowa, USA.

Smith, D.M. (ed.) 1986. The practice of silviculture. 8th edition. John Wiley, New York, USA.

Soil Science Society of America. 1987. Glossary of soil science terms. Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Madison, WI, USA.

Soule, J. (ed.) 1985. Glossary of horticulture crops. John Wiley, New York, USA.

Wilson, T.C. 1978. Researcher's guide to statistics: Glossary and decision map. Univ. Press of America, Washington, D.C, USA.