Agro-environmental Systems

The Agro-Environmental Systems research group investigates in a holistic approach the bio-geophysical functioning of agro-environmental systems to better understand and manage the interactions of agriculture and natural resources under increasing societal demands and climate change. The main outcome is policy support and decision support tools for farmers to meet the challenges of a sustainable agriculture in the framework of a changing environment. To address these challenges the group brings together competences in agronomy, climatology, and environmental chemistry.

RESEARCH CHALLENGES

Crop protection and precision agriculture 

In the field of crop protection, the main focus is to implement the science related parts of EU regulations and directives on sustainable use of pesticides and food quality. The general objective is to reduce pesticide use and to increase the use of techniques that can achieve this objective without jeopardizing yield and quality of agricultural and viticultural products. Deliverables can be roughly separated into knowledge generation, knowledge transfer and method development in the domains of: 

  • Pest and disease monitoring services, including resistance management
  • Development of diagnostic tools and pest identification schemes
  • Scientific basis for local decisions on the use of plant protection agents which respect non-target organisms like pollinators
  • Development and evaluation of sustainable cropping techniques as adaptation to changing environmental factors
  • Investigating interactions between already established and invasive pest species and their host plants via climate chamber experiments 

The research group develops decision support tools for controlling diseases and pest insects in agriculture and viticulture for practical applications and to fulfil the demand of governmental regulations.

In close cooperation with the remote sensing research group, new approaches for precision agriculture based on drone and fixed-wing data acquisition (VIS, thermal and hyperspectral) are generated.

Climate - agro-environmental systems interactions 

The overall objective is to predict the impact of climate change on agricultural systems as well as to achieve a better understanding of its role as one of the major source of anthropogenic climate forcing. Researchers use state-of-the-art Earth Systems Models that incorporate advanced parameterizations of specific crops, cropping cycles, and management practices as well as the most recent and detailed information on their spatial distribution at regional and continental scale. The group delivers:

  • High-resolution regional climate simulations by exploiting the in-house High Performance Computing facilities in accordance to established data management standards
  • Local and regional impact studies of climate effects on agro-ecosystems by combining model output with lab experiments (i.e., climate chamber), in-situ and remote sensing measurements 
  • Quantification of the influence of different cropping systems / techniques on greenhouse gas emission by field and numerical modelling experiments.
  • Improved biophysical parameterizations for predictions of crop response under drought scenarios in compliance with established software development standards

The research group provides scientifically based information for mitigation and adaptation strategies to the local and regional public and private stakeholders.

Transport and fate of pesticides and fertilisers

The overall objective is to better understand the fate, transport and ecosystem impact of chemical pollutants in the catchment and to integrate innovative low-cost sensors and detection techniques, controlling systems, modelling tools and information systems into operational management tools for water resources, with a focus on diffuse sources of organic compounds and fertilizers from agricultural areas. Specific activities are to: 

  • Improve the understanding of the fate and transport of chemical pollutants (flow paths, dynamics, mitigation)
  • Use a combination of passive sampling devices and continuous monitoring probes to achieve representative sampling and quantitative load calculations of pollutants with dynamic occurrence in water resources
  • Derive probe signals as proxies for online surveillance of fast breakthroughs and pollution incidents
  • Apply fate models (PEARL, HERMES) for pesticide and nutrient pollution risk screening and mitigation measures in drinking water capture zones (ground- and surface water)
  • Evaluate the impact of multiple pressures on ecosystem functioning and biological communities in surface waters.

EQUIPMENT 

The research team runs 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 to multi-trophic systems.

Researchers run and co-develop a suite of established software for terrestrial systems and atmospheric simulations: Weather Research and Forecast Model (WRF), the Terrestrial System Modeling Platform (TerrSysMP), and the Community Land Model (CLM).

Luxembourg Microbial Culture Collection

The group maintains the Luxembourg Microbial Culture Collection, a collection of well-characterized fungal strains that was established within the framework of the FP7 European Project MycoRed. The information on the strains is freely available. Fungal strains are available to academia and industry on request. 

Domaines de recherche
  • Environnement

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Partenaires

  • Administration of Technical Services for Agriculture,
  • Agroptimize s.a.
  • Chamber of agriculture,
  • Drinking water syndicates,
  • Ministry of Agriculture,
  • Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure,
  • Veterinary Services Administration,
  • Viticulture and Consumer Protection,
  • Water Management Administration,
  • Wine Institute

 

 

 

 

 

Contact

Prof. Dr Lucien HOFFMANN
Prof. Dr Lucien HOFFMANN

Director of Environmental Research and Innovation department

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