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Hundred fifty years of soil security research in Indonesia: Shifting topics, modes of research and gender balance

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In Indonesian development policy, soil security is primarily understood as part of food security, expansion of the plantation economy, and resettlement schemes rather than as soil-related Sustainable-Development-Goal concerns for health, water, energy, jobs, protection from disasters, changing climates, life in water and life on land. A recent paper reported a shift of Indonesian soil science towards equal participation by men and women. Here we explore a parallel change in focus. in the scientific analysis of (1) the ‘what/where/when’ of soil patterns, (2) the ‘how’ of soil processes and functions, (3) the ways soils can be managed and used, and (4) the ‘so what’ and ‘who cares’ of related to societal interests. We compared shifts in soil science research in literature from the colonial period, with the themes discussed in Indonesian soil science meetings of the past 40 years. Four research themes (patterns, processes, management, environment) were reflected in 29, 21, 49 and 2% of the 1406 publications in the 1890–1963 soil bibliography. In Indonesian soil science meetings of the past 40 years the themes formed 10, 28, 53 and 9% of the 1703 publications, respectively. Gender balance emerged in the past 20 years, with almost a 50:50 ratio of men and women as authors in 2019. However, women's participation is still uneven, with underrepresentation in the soil survey fieldwork and overrepresentation in laboratory-oriented soil process research. International publications about soils in Indonesia shifted earlier to these parts of the sustainable development agenda, but the national discussion followed the trend.

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