First, our project aims to improve the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the sustainability of agroecosystems in a context of water stress, and more particularly the ecological functions that are prerequisites for ecosystem services. This general scientific interest will be improved by measuring indicators such as the function of the underlying trophic relationships of mycorrhizal symbiosis, i.e. molecular markers embodied by membrane proteins that cause phosphorus transport in both the plant and the fungal partner at the root level.
In addition, functional biodiversity surveys will allow to determine potential correlations between specific diversity or relative abundance and the management of certain bio-aggressors. Our approach will also shed light upon the impact of a specific community of soil microorganisms on fruit/seed quality through taxonomic diversity analyses and metabolomic analyses. Our project broadens the notion of sustainability by analysing the impact of cultivation techniques and methods not only on yield but also in terms of nutritional and organoleptic quality. Finally, the concatenation of these considerations will allow to sketch out a first vision in a first approximation of the processes and their interaction in the agroecosystems tested and compared.
We will test different agroecosystems in a consistent way with the broader environmental conditions at the experimental site, which will allow us to determine rigorous and consistent methods for implementing adapted and efficient agroecosystems according to sustainability criteria (environmental, social and economic). This is complementary to the improvement of knowledge related to the functioning of agrosystems in a context of water stress described above, but the characterization of agroecosystem establishment methods is critical because production areas differ greatly according to a large number of parameters, some of which are not manageable or well understood.
Moreover, given that in France nearly 95% of agricultural production systems follow conventional methods with the use of synthetic inputs – this number is approximate because there are intermediate systems between industrial agriculture and agroecology, such as precision agriculture based on new technologies, integrated agriculture, which aims to optimize the doses of synthetic inputs used, or organic agriculture, which substitutes synthetic inputs with organic fertilizers and biocontrol agents, for example – and therefore little information is available on the agro-ecological methods to be deployed or adjusted according to given ecological, pedoclimatic but also socio-economic conditions.
Finally, one of the interests of our project consists in a holistic approach to agricultural production systems since the study of agroecosystems is coupled with their impact on the socio-economic context, particularly at the territorial level. The experimental site isa Natura 2000 protected site where the objective is to reconcile the dynamic preservation of biodiversity with socio-economic activities that are not harmful to the environment, in an approach involving as many local stakeholders as possible.