Regarding the ‘Think Global’ part:
AllEnvi, in charge of this part of the project, has since its creation undertaken to structure the elementary observation devices into networks by labelling the Observation and Experimentation Systems for Environmental Research or Soere. The objective of these national mechanisms is to lay the foundations for new national infrastructures, or to be integrated into national research infrastructures already included in the national roadmap.
The ‘Observation-Experimentation-Modelling’ approach is the foundation of environmental sciences. This requires a set of highly qualified scientific and technological infrastructures, some of which are deployed in the form of observatories and others in the form of experiments in natura.
These networks are organized to answer major scientific questions on the environment, in the various compartments of the Earth system as well as in their interfaces, and therefore present a high spatial and temporal variability of observations with different time and space scales as well as environments and habitats studied that are highly variable. They also require long-term investment, which is essential for the knowledge and modelling of the major physical, chemical, biological and human processes at work in the environments studied, but also for the development of operational monitoring services and the monitoring of the evolution of the most sensitive areas.
These national observation and experimentation systems require data quality, instrumentation efforts, sustainability and data accessibility. The objectives of networking through Soere are to strengthen the integrative logic of the observation of related or complementary variables, the effort to build measurement and indicator repositories in a generic logic allowing comparison at large scales. The goal is also to build information systems around these systems, considering the recurring issues of sharing, interoperability between databases and data representativeness, in synergy with national initiatives for data centres in each major field.
Finally, these networks aim to build up a data package and produce qualifying approaches that are essential for their use by various players, including operational players. In this area, the Soere should focus, where possible, on databases linking biophysical, biological and socio-economic data to study complex interactions or even feedback of coupling between media, compartments and anthropogenic factors, in order to gain a detailed understanding of the processes at work.
As is the case with the Soere, the goal is to pool reflections and thus conduct a transdisciplinary and transorganization analysis. Based on quarterly seminars involving all stakeholders, this work will be accompanied by a PhD thesis, which will propose solutions for the implementation of a new socio-economic framework. The expected duration is three years.
Regarding the ‘Act Local’ part:
The ‘Act Local’ component will be based on experiments on the Courmettes site. The plant materials used will be fruit trees and vegetable species. The varieties selected will partly be of indigenous origin, i.e. called local ‘heirloom’ varieties. These varieties are characterized by the fact that they were selected by farmers on a territorial scale (particularly those chosen by the biodiversity conservatory) before the advent of modern variety selection programmes based largely on genomic techniques in a context of high dependence of agrosystems on synthetic inputs.
The characteristic intra-varietal genetic variability of the heirloom varieties used will be of interest for the resilience of the agroecosystem that will be established. These biodiversity reservoirs will thus allow meeting different production objectives and to tolerate biotic and abiotic stresses more easily. Meanwhile, varieties derived from modern breeding methods will also be selected according to their agronomic characteristics (e.g. water stress tolerance or taste quality), in order to carry out comparative analyses.
In addition, varieties (especially those chosen by biodiversity conservatories) will also be selected for their ability to promote ecosystem services such as those capable of forming mutualist symbiosis with soil microorganisms (nitrogen-fixing bacteria, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) that are beneficial for plant development. Moreover, associations of fruit treesand vegetable plant varieties will be tested to determine beneficial couples, especially during water stress episodes: trees are able to provide water to vegetable plants via fungal networks. Other combinations will be tested between vegetable plants in order to manage better potential bio-aggressors: varieties called ‘baits’ or ‘inhibitors’ will be used to attract or destroy bio-aggressors so that they do not target varieties of interest for production. In the same vein, cultural successions will be set up over the duration of the experiment not to favour bio-aggressors who are dependent on given plant varieties.
The different agrosystems tested will be divided into micro-parcel of identical size, the rows will be arranged perpendicular to the gentle slope. The sustainability of agroecosystems will be compared according to several factors: cultural practices (seeding rate, row width, shallow tillage, organic fertilization, etc.) but also selected and associated varieties.
The analyses will focus on: (i) plant development (biomass, organ size, number of organs, duration of development stages, photosynthetic activity, etc.); (ii) yield markers (number of flowers, number of fruits, mass of fruits, size of fruits, etc.); (iii) fruit quality (sugar ratio: acids, colorimetry, composition in specific secondary metabolites, etc.); (iv) markers of ecosystem services (functional diversity of soil microorganisms, dynamics of weed communities, functioning of biogeochemical cycles, etc.). AllEnvi (National Research Alliance for the Environment), with its network, will give us the opportunity to carry out all these measures. The statistical and probabilistic expertise of complex systems provided by Oriskany will be essential to the analysis of the data collected.