CIAT is carrying out an agricultural land resource evaluation of Tropical America to create a base for the effective development and transfer of germplasm oriented technology. The study started in mid-1977 and now covers 850 million ha. It reduces land information to a common base in terms of land systems defined as repetitive patterns of climate, landscape and soils. These are delineated directly onto satellite and side-looking radar imagery. Within land systems, soils are separately described in terms of the major landscape topographical facets.

Once the land resource information is summarized, it is recorded as a computerized data storage, retrieval and analytical, map and data printout system, to speed-up analysis. The system facilitates the analysis of the land resource data with other information including economic parameters. The collated information is already available as a series of computer tapes. Examples of the application of the study are given.

The work is already helping CIAT focus endeavor in developing and transferring promising pasture grass and legume accessions, in accordance with the realities of Tropical America's ecosystems. It is also playing an increasingly important role as a dynamic land resource data bank of the region for crop, pasture and agro-forestry production generally.

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