BHUTAN

February 2001 - December 2003

Danida

DANIDA ADVISER

BHUTAN SOIL SURVEY (BSS),

NATIONAL SOILS SERVICES CENTRE (NSSC), SIMTOKHA

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, BHUTAN

 (For further information CONTACT the Tshering at BSS or Tsheten or even Kinley)

Rice terraces near Simtokha Animal power Royal Government of Bhutan Ploughshare manufacture View of Wangdi Dzong

Attached to BSS as Soil Survey Specialist initially for two years (Feb 2001 Feb 2003) and remained for 3 till the end of 2003 to help with capacity building.

Main tasks and outputs:

       Improving out-puts in the form of maps and survey reports GPS mapping software proving very useful for production of maps at large (1,1500 etc) scale

       Design and use of computer-compatible field data recording proforma

       Design of soils database BHUSOD, Bhutan Soil Database in conjunction with DBMS expert

       Establish a GIS system to produce soil maps in conjunction with GIS expert

       Improve and further develop the basic field, reporting and appropriate IT skills of Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) soil surveyors

       Establish a system for the classification of the soils of in Bhutan via defining soil series - system now in use and based on filters

       Develop a system for physical land evaluation / physical land suitability classification for Bhutan system, based on FAO, now in use following establishment of crop criteria

       Drafting of Working Papers covering all systems developed with final out being upgrade of the Soil Survey Manual for Bhutan

Several of the staff have been on academic training overseas in the likes of Reading and Wageningen Universities. Collaborative programmes exists or are being investigated / set-up between the Technical University of Munich, University of Copenhagen, Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan and regional consultancy companies in India (eg Kampsax).

The most important land-use type is wetland rice chhushing but a very wide range of crops is grown from the staples (maize etc to potatoes), vegetables crops of all varieties plus cash fruit crops such as apples, citrus etc . Most of the flatter bottomed valleys are devoted to rice but some quite steep slopes are also used. Land-shaping has long been used to construct chhushing terraces. AT the top left of this page is a photo of one of the flatter bottomed valleys, Simtokha some 7 km west of Thimphu.

Much of the country is heavily forested and plans are that it will remain this way for a very long time yet; permission to change the use of land to something different is not easily obtained and BSS has designed proforma for recording and assisting with decisions as to whether applications for change are justified. Agriculture is, due to the nature of the terrain and very small parcels of land, still not well developed from the mechanised side of things and much of the tillage and husbandry is done by hand or animal power though mini-tractors are now very popular and common but in some cases no wheeled vehicle can even reach the field that requires cultivation. There are, however, many new access and farm roads under construction as the infrastructure moves ahead at a rapid but controlled pace.

 

Fieldwork can be a killer, but it does get one fit and affords some fantastic views.

BHUTAN SOIL SURVEY, NATIONAL SOIL SERVICES CENTRE, SIMTOKHA, BHUTAN

1. Short Description 

The history of BSS starts in 1992 when RGoB approached Danida for assistance with soil mapping. The Ministry of Agriculture further pursued the matter during the bi-annual meetings between RGoB and Danida in 1994, stating that the Soil Mapping Project had high priority. Responsibility for project formulation was given to the Land Use Planning Project (LUPP, now LUSS Land Use Statistical Section) in collaboration with RGoB staff in late 1994.

 

The immediate objectives of the Soil Survey and Land Resources project were:

 1.        To ensure that the necessary soil information could be made available by trained RGoB-staff through a fully competent and functioning soil survey section in order to optimise the use of land suited for agriculture, horticulture, pastures or forestry, and;

 2.        To provide RGoB with general information on Bhutanese soils, exemplified through maps, definition of benchmark soils and a soils database.

Project support to Soil Survey for a three-year period was started in July 1996 with Danish assistance of 4.810 million DKK. The development objective of the Project was to reach the optimum sustainable production level in the RNR (Renewable Natural Resource) Sector of Bhutan over the next 20 years.

 

The Project objectives were as detailed above with the aim of establishing a fully operational, staffed, equipped soil survey unit within the Ministry of Agriculture. The following outputs were expected from Project:

          A fully operational, staffed, trained and equipped Soil Survey Unit;

          Reconnaissance, semi-detailed and, for smaller areas, detailed information on soils from the LUPP planning areas;

          A reconnaissance level soil map (1:50,000 scale) for the 7 8% arable land in Bhutan;

          Semi-detailed surveys and maps of soils of some important agricultural areas of Bhutan (Approximately 50,000 Ha). Some of the areas to be identified on the Physiographic maps produced by LUPP during 1996 as areas that may have a potential for agriculture. In addition, land capability maps to be prepared for these areas;

          A systematic methodology for collation of soils within Bhutan.

 

BSS is currently setting up a cooperation programme with the Royal University of Bhutan (Geography Department, Sherubtse College) to allow:

              Development of a SOILS course at the University based on Bhutanese systems and data

              Allow students to be attached to BSS to gain FIELD EXPERIENCE plus use of the BSS SYSTEMS

              Create more awareness of soils and soil science

 

2. Organisational Structure

 BSS is situated within the National Soil Services Centre (NSSC) at Simtokha, outside Thimphu. It came under the Division of Research and Development Services (DRDS) (later renamed to Council of Research and Extension - CORE) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA). Also situated at NSSC are:

          The Soil and Plant Analytical Laboratory (SPAL);

          The Soil Fertility Section;

          The soil Microbiology Section

 

SPAL received a limited amount of support from the EU - European Union - and the Fertility Section received Dutch support. However, these activities or sections have the same National Project Manager (NPM) (or PD - Programme Director) under the same institutional set-up with financial and administrative independence.

 

The MoA consists of a number of central support units, of which the NSSC is one, which work together with the Renewable Natural Resource Research Centres (RNR-RCs). The MoA has four RNR-RCs spread out over the country, each with a regional responsibility and the responsibility for a specific subject matter. The RNR-RCs are the link between the MoA central units, research and extension and all interaction with extension staff now goes through the RNR-RCs.

 

BSS has already executed routine soil survey of all the RNR-RCs, and of some of the substations - some of which still have to be reported. Staff of the RNR-RCs collaborated with BSS in the surveys and continue to work closely with BSS in the establishment of crop criteria for development of land evaluation and land capability / suitability methodologies. The Fertility Section offered constructive criticism of the proposed crop criteria for land classification and the Extension Training Section of DRDS are now assessing the proposed system and ways of including and promoting it within their activities. SPAL work closely with BSS by carrying out all the necessary laboratory analyses requested by BSS.

 

3. Capacity Building Achievements

 Overall the BSS Component is in a healthy status and a great deal of capacity has already been built. This statement is made in light of the following facts:

                   The unit physically exists

          The unit is fully staffed

          The unit is fully equipped

          The staff are undergoing the planned on-the-job and academic, overseas and / or regional training

          Fifteen soil surveys have been executed and reports issued

          The soils database BHUSOD Bhutan Soil Databank) has been compiled and a large dataset now exists

          The hardware and software for the GIS system has been set up and is now in use

          A proposed system for soil classification has been drafted and is in use

          A system for physical land evaluation / physical suitability classification has been compiled, is in use and about to be incorporated in the BHUSOD GIS/DBMS System

          Almost 30 working papers on various BSS systems and techniques have been compiled in readiness for updating the Soil Survey Manual for Bhutan

 

4. Staff

 The BSS is fully staffed though there is currently a staff shortage for normal activities since two (2) staff members are still overseas undergoing further academic training. The current staffing situation of BSS is shown in Table 4.1.

 

During the current and previous phase of the programme, the highest priority has been on capacity building and that has meant training. On the job training (O-j-T) has and will continue till the end of the current phase (Provisionally June 2003) but it has been decided that staff should be subjected to as much academic training as possible to allow them develop the highest abilities possible for the future.

 

The need for academic training over-rode the need to make physical progress in routine survey work.

 

Table 4.1 Current BSS Staffing

 

National Project Manager

Chencho Norbu

Overall management of and responsibility for BSS and the integration of BSS within the NSSC and with other agencies and ministries.

Senior Soil Surveyor

Austin Hutcheon

Danida TA adviser until the end of 2003. Staff training, guidance and support with development of systems and procedures to update and upgrade BSS activities and output.

RGoB Soil Surveyors

Tshering Dorji

Gained MSc in Wageningen in 2003 and took over as Senior Soil Surveyor in 2004

 

Phuntsho Gyeltshen

Studying for BSc in Reading until 2003

 

Tsheten Dorji

Completed Diploma Course in Reading in September 2002, took over management of the BHUSOD (dbms & GIS) system

 

Kado Tshering

On routine BSS activities, does most of the land-swapping investigations

Kinley Penjor Joined the BSS in 2004 previously having been in the extension service. Has been on secondment, / in-service training with Soil Survey of India

GIS Operator

Sangita Pradhan

Undergoing basic skill development and training in GIS and DBMS and GPS use and mapping and has had in-service courses in India (Kampsax) and Nepal (ICIMOD)

Support Staff

 

 

Administrative Officer

D.B. Tamang

NSSC administrative officer and network administrator

Accountant

Suraj Gurung

NSSC accountant, looks after BSS affairs - gone on a course in Indonesia 2003/2004

Secretary

Kencho

Report production, management of filing system and logistical support

Driver(s)

Phubtshering

Transport / Logistical support in the office and field

 

 5. Output                                                 (Contact Bhutan Soil Survey BSS for updates / more information) 

BSS

 training & methodology documents Hard copy

Digital

 

TD 1

Basics of soil science for soil survey in Bhutan.

BSS BSS

 

TD 2

 

Soil survey handbook for Bhutan.

 

BSS BSS

Version 1 July 2000

Version 2 November 2000

Version 3 November 2003 [Author]

TD 3

 

Guidelines for forest soil characterisation and sampling

[Jointly with Forest research Section, RNR-RC West, Yusipang]

BSS BSS

 

BSS reports of main soil surveys

SS 1

Detailed soil survey of Yusipang RNR-RC

BSS BSS

 

SS 2

Detailed soil survey of Bathpalathang site, Jakar RNR-RC

BSS BSS

 

SS 3

Detailed soil survey of Bajo RNR-RC

BSS BSS

 

SS 4

Detailed soil survey of Khangma RNR-RC

BSS BSS

 

SS 5

Semi-detailed soil survey of Lingmutey Chhu watershed

BSS BSS

 

SS 6

Semi-detailed soil survey of Radhi geog

BSS BSS

 

SS 7

Semi-detailed soil survey of Lame Goempa Research Forest

BSS BSS

 

SS 8

Report on the soils of Merak and Sakten

BSS BSS

 

SS 9

Semi-detailed soil survey of arable lands in Punakha Dzongkhag, Puna Tsang Chhu valley

BSS BSS

Fieldwork done Draft in progress

SS 10

Semi-detailed soil survey of arable lands of middle Nyakalumphu valley, Punakha

BSS BSS

 

SS 11

Detailed soil survey of Royal Botanic Garden, Serbithang

BSS BSS

 

SS 12

Detailed soil survey of Wyengkhar RNR-RC site, Mongar

BSS BSS

 

SS 13

Detailed soil survey of Darla RNR-RC sub centre, Chhuka

BSS BSS

 

SS 14

Semi-detailed soil survey of Sangma Ri watershed, Drametse, Mongar

BSS BSS

 

SS15

Detailed soil survey (and land classification) of Bhur farm, Gelephu, Sarpang

BSS BSS

 New format report

SS16

Yusipang Research Plot

BSS BSS

 New format report

SS17

 

 

BSS reports of miscellaneous soil surveys and inspections

MR 97/1

Soils report on first batch of land conversion applications.

BSS BSS

 

MR 97/2

Soils report on land conversion applications, Trashigang and Trashiyangtse dzongkhags.

BSS BSS

 

MR 97/3

Soils of proposed orchard of Ashi Kezom, Nyapha

BSS BSS

 

MR 97/4

Soil profiles at NSSC site, Semtokha (Full survey under planning)

BSS BSS

 

MR 98/1

Soil profiles at Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu

BSS BSS

 

MR 98/2

Soils report on third batch of land conversion applications.

BSS BSS

 

MR 98/3

Soils report on fourth batch of land conversion applications.

BSS BSS

 

MR 98/4

Soils of orchard of Mr Kipchu Tshering, Shaba, Paro

BSS BSS

 

MR 99/1

Soils report on fifth batch of land conversion applications.

BSS BSS

 

MR 99/2

Soils report on sixth batch of land conversion applications.

BSS BSS

 

MR 99/3

Soils report on seventh batch of land conversion applications.

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/1

Report on BSS visits to farm of Dasho Wangdi Norbu, Paro

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/2

Main features of apple soils in Bhutan

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/3

Soils of Soil Microbiology plots, Semtokha

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/4

Soils of Sangay Duba apple orchard, Yusipang

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/5

Soils of citrus demonstration plots, Punakha and Wangdi

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/6

Soils of high altitude areas, for GLOF study by DGM

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/7

Soils of 19 apple orchards Thimphu & Paro dzongkhags

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/8

Soils of CBS, Langjopahkha, Thimphu

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/9

Soils report on 8th batch of land conversion applications

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/10

Soils of Tokyo University/RNR-RC Yusipang forest ecology plots, Chelela, Haa

BSS BSS

 

MR 00/11

Soils of forest ecology transect, Langjopahkha

BSS BSS

 

MR 01/01

Royal apple orchard in Ramtokto & Paro valley

BSS BSS

 

 

 

 

 

NEW REPORT NUMBERING SYSTEM INVOKED mid 2001

   

 

MR 01/05

Blue Pine Die Back

BSS BSS

 

MR 01/06

RSPN Site NAHI, Wangdue

BSS BSS

 

MR 01/07

NSSC Site on hold

BSS BSS

 

MR 01/08

Simtokha Orchard

BSS BSS

 

MR 01/09

Begana Orchard

BSS BSS

 

MR 02/01

Leukha Orchard, Paro

BSS BSS

 

MR 02/02

Land Assessment Debtshig Farm

BSS BSS

 

MR 02/03

Land Assessment at Buna

BSS BSS

 

MR 02/04

Rimchhu Citrus Orchard, Punakha

BSS BSS

 

MR 02/05

Lungtenphu Orchard

BSS BSS

 

MR03/01

Mail BSS for further details

 

MR03/02

 

 

MR03/03

 

 

MR03/04

 

 

 

 

 

BSS technical working papers

 

   

WP 1

Review of pre-BSSP soil surveys and data

BSS

 

WP 2

A preliminary application of soil horizon typology in Bhutan

BSS BSS

 

WP 3

Soil classification for Bhutan

BSS BSS

 

WP 3c

BSS Soil Series 2001

BSS BSS Author

 

WP 4

Preliminary outline of BSSP soil databases

BSS BSS Author

 

WP4b

Database and GIS System, BHUSOD - Bhutan Soil Databank

BSS BSS Author

 

WP 5

Review of LUPP areas of soil survey interest and agricultural expansion

BSS BSS

 

WP 6

Pedological research requirements and proposals

BSS BSS

 

WP 6(a)

Research proposal 2000-2001

BSS BSS

 

WP 7

Guidelines for forest soil characterisation and sampling

BSS BSS

 

WP 8

Physiographic framework for Bhutan

BSS BSS

 

WP 9

Physical land evaluation system for Bhutan

BSS BSS

 

WP9c

Land Evaluation and Classification 2001

BSS BSS Author

 

WP10

Soil Acidity and Aluminium

BSS BSS Author

 

WP11

Soil Stability Emerson Test and Classification for Bhutan

BSS BSS Author

 

WP12

Map Construction with GPS

BSS BSS Author

 

WP13

Mapping

BSS BSS Author

 

WP14

Gradient and Slope

BSS BSS Author

 

WP15

Texture & Particle Size Class

BSS BSS Author

 

WP16

Interpretation of Laboratory Data

BSS BSS Author

 

WP17

Soil Physics - Infiltration

BSS BSS Author

 

WP18

Soil Horizons, Layers and Diagnostics

BSS BSS Author

 

WP19

Coordinate Template

BSS BSS Author

 

WP20

Soil Moisture - AWHC

BSS BSS Author

 

WP21

Survey Plans and Scales under construction (2002 / 2003)

BSS BSS Author

 

WP22

Other Systems - under construction (2002 / 2003)

BSS BSS Author

 

WP23

Soil Colour and Drainage Classes

BSS BSS Author

 

WP24

Computer Maintenance

BSS BSS Author

 

WP25

Land Conversion (Swapping)

BSS BSS Author

 

WP26

Climatic Zones

BSS BSS Author

 

WP27

Field Guide Card

BSS BSS Author

 

WP28

Water Harvesting

BSS BSS Author

 

WP29

Area Measurement

BSS BSS Author

 

WP30

Systems and Procedures with CD

BSS BSS Author