The aim of the research is to understand and to model agricultural ecosystems to be able to propose management strategies that fit within the current issues of sustainable development (the social, environmental and economic impacts). It also concerns the analysing and modelling of the effects of agriculture on the countryside and on managing the natural resources (water, land). The studies are carried out at different levels of scale: small fields, groups of fields, very large fields, catchment areas, territory.
The research areas within this main theme take in several disciplines: (i) ecophysiology of plants (ii) systemic agronomy and animal science (iii) functional ecology and ecology of landscapes (iv) mathematics, statistics and computing applied to biological modelling and decision-making systems (v) geomatics (vi) chemistry and biochemistry. The areas covered by the different research groups are:
• Measurement of the transfer of pesticides used in viticulture into the aqueous environment and their detoxification by soil organisms.
• The development of spatio-temporal models applied to agro-ecosystems and decision making in agriculture.
• Modelling applied to the management of renewable natural resources in the rural setting, notably of the diversity of the fauna and flora, and of water, from the field level to the territory.
• The study and modelling of the effects of plant variety on the durability of large-scale farming in situations where the availability of water and nitrogen are limited.
• The study and modelling of the effects of farming practices (fertilisation, pastures, mowing) on agricultural priorities (productivity and quality) and on the environment (biodiversity), that is on the genotypes of native plants, for conservation, and on the natural areas, that are promoted by animal grazing.
• The analysis and modelling of land-use changes in agricultural and forest areas applied to prospective and spacio-temporal dynamic studies of the ecosytems and landscape and the support of the land management.
The research groups carry out the research with applications to linked to farming practices in conjunction with ecological issues and are therefore involved with different players from the agricultural world, such as institutes of plant technology (CETIOM, ARVALIS, Institut de l’Elevage, etc), the Chambers of Agriculture, and Departmental agencies for Agriculture and Forest, or environmental management bodies (DIREN, Agence de Bassin, Parc National des Pyrénées, Conservatoire Botanique).