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:
Ø 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
Ø Design and use of computer-compatible field data recording proforma
Ø Design of soils database – BHUSOD, Bhutan Soil Database – in conjunction with DBMS expert
Ø Establish a GIS system to produce soil maps in conjunction with GIS expert
Ø Improve and further develop the basic field, reporting and appropriate IT skills of Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) soil surveyors
Ø Establish a system for the classification of the soils of in Bhutan via defining soil series - system now in use and based on filters
Ø 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
Ø 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
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:
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
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;
level soil map (1:50,000 scale) for the 7 – 8% arable land in
surveys and maps of soils of some important agricultural areas of
methodology for collation of soils within
BSS is currently setting up a cooperation programme with the Royal University of Bhutan (Geography Department,
· 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
· 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
has already executed routine soil survey of all the
· 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
· 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
30 working papers on
various BSS systems and techniques have been compiled in readiness for updating
the Soil Survey Manual for
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.