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, pest and diseases in viticulture, environmental impact of pesticides
  • Pesticide reduction in agriculture and viticulture: crop rotation, crop cultural management, disease forecast, use of less harmful or biological products, biological or biotechnological pest control
  • Climate change: adaptation strategies in viticulture and horticulture
  • Pollinator decline: honeybee 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
  • Soil microbial diversity: the microbiome and microbial processes that moderate nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, and soil health

RESEARCH CHALLENGES

Our activities are mainly wired around use-inspired basic research, as well as applied research activities. More specifically, we focus at three complementary domains:

Crop protection

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:

  • 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 reducing the use of pesticides as well as adapting to changing environmental factors, especially droughts

PRECISION AGRICULTURE AND VITICULTURE

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

Climate-agro-environmental systems interactions

We aim at predicting the impact of climate change on agricultural systems (including arthropod-plant interactions), 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 and projections based on recent emission scenarios
  • Local and regional impact studies of climate effects on agro-ecosystems
  • Assessment of agricultural management on soil health, soil carbon, and soil nutrient cycling

Development of smart agricultural approaches for transforming agricultural systems to guarantee ecological intensification and ensure food security under a changing climate.

APPLICATION AREAS

  • Agricultural monitorting: pests in oilseed rape, diseases in cereals, weeds in wheat, maize and oilseed rape, pest and diseases in viticulture, environmental impact of pesticides
  • Pesticide reduction: crop rotation, crop cultural management, disease forecast, use of less harmful or biological products, biological or biotechnological pest control
  • Precision agriculture: agroecosystem protection and management, digital decision support tools for agriculture and viticulture
  • Global change & agriculture: adaptation strategies to climate change in agriculture, viticulture and horticulture, pollinator decline, vegetation response to global change; water cycle-vegetation feedbacks, mitigation strategies to enhance soil carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils

MAIN ASSETS

  • Decision support tools for pesticide and fertiliser management in drinking water protection zones
  • Decision support tools for controlling diseases and pest insects in agriculture and viticulture
  • High-resolution regional climate simulations
  • 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 soil microbial, 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

2021

2020

2019

2018

 

Research domains
  • Environment

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Contact

Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
Dr habil. Laurent PFISTER
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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.