Agro-environmental Systems

At the Agro-environmental Systems (AGRO) research group, we rely on a holistic approach for investigating the bio-geophysical functioning of agro-environmental systems. Our goal is to better understand and manage the interactions of agriculture and natural resources in a context of increasing societal demands and climate change. We deliver policy support and decision support tools for farmers to meet the challenges of a sustainable agriculture. To address these challenges we rely on our competences in agronomy, climatology, and environmental chemistry.

MAIN EXPERTISE FIELDS

  • Environmental monitoring: pests in oilseed rape; diseases in cereals; weeds in wheat, maize and oilseed rape; environmental impact of pesticides
  • Climate change: adaptation strategies in viticulture and horticulture
  • Pollinator decline: honey bee colony losses - from monitoring to prevention strategies
  • Digital decision support tools for agriculture and viticulture
  • Innovative diagnostic tools in plant pathology: genotyping, analytical chemistry and remote sensing

RESEARCH CHALLENGES

Our activities are wired around three main research domains:

Crop protection and precision agriculture

We target a reduction of pesticide application and a more widespread use of techniques – aligned with EU regulations and directives on food quality and sustainable use of pesticides. Our deliverables consist of knowledge generation, knowledge transfer and method development in the domains of (non-exhaustive list):

  • Pest and disease monitoring services, including resistance management
  • Scientific basis for local decisions on the use of plant protection agents which respect non-target organisms, like pollinator insects
  • Development and evaluation of sustainable cropping techniques for adapting to changing environmental factors, especially droughts

In close cooperation with the REMOTE group, we also participate in the development of new approaches for precision agriculture based on drone and fixed-wing data acquisition (visible, thermal and hyperspectral).

Climate-agro-environmental systems interactions

We aim at predicting the impact of climate change on agricultural systems, as well as achieving a better understanding of its role as one of the major sources of anthropogenic climate forcing. We deliver (non-exhaustive list):

  • High-resolution regional climate simulations
  • Local and regional impact studies of climate effects on agro-ecosystems 
  • Development of smart agricultural approaches for transforming agricultural systems to guarantee ecological intensification and ensure food security under a changing climate

Transport and fate of pesticides and fertilisers

We target a better understanding of the fate, transport and ecosystem impact of chemical pollutants in catchments. For this, we rely on a combination on innovative low-cost sensors and detection techniques, controlling systems, modelling tools and information systems. Our ultimate goal is the development of operational management tools for water resources, with a focus on diffuse sources of organic compounds and fertilisers from agricultural areas. We deliver (non-exhaustive list):

  • Improved understanding of the fate and transport of chemical pollutants
  • Representative sampling and quantitative load calculations of pollutants with dynamic occurrence in water resources, using a combination of passive sampling devices and continuous monitoring probes
  • Application of fate models (PEARL, HERMES) for pesticide and nutrient pollution risk screening and mitigation measures in drinking water capture zones (ground- and surface water)

APPLICATION AREAS

  • Agriculture
  • Viticulture
  • Apiculture
  • Environmental policies

MAIN ASSETS

  • A collection of well-characterised fungal strains that was established within the framework of the FP7 European Project MycoRed, Luxembourg Microbial Culture Collection.The information on the strains is freely available. Fungal strains are available to academia and industry on request. 
  • Black rot module of the viticultural disease warning system, Vitimeteo.

EQUIPMENT

  • We operate well equipped mycology and entomological laboratories, as well as climate chambers to investigate effects of changing environmental factors (e.g., temperature, humidity, radiation and CO2 levels) on multi-trophic systems.
  • We use soil chambers and a mobile gas analyser for the assessment of different greenhouse gas emissions (CO2, NH3, CH4, N2O) from agricultural sites.
  • We run and co-develop a suite of established software for terrestrial systems and atmospheric simulations: Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF), the Terrestrial System Modelling Platform (TerrSysMP), and the Community Land Model (CLM).

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

2020

2019

2018

 

Research domains
  • Environment

Share this page:

Contact

Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
Send an e-mail
View team members

Further information

The three research groups of the ENVISION unit focus on (i) agro-environmental systems [AGRO group], (ii) remote sensing and natural resources modelling [REMOTE group], as well as (iii) catchment and eco-hydrology [CAT group]. All three lines of research largely connect with each other.