Agronomy Research Expertise in Montpellier and Languedoc-Roussillon (South of France)

Agronomy : crops and cropping systems

UMR LISAH Laboratory for the Study of Interactions between Soil, Agrosystems and Water Systems (in French)

Member institutes and partners  : Inra, IRD, Montpellier SupAgro

The Laboratory for the Study of Interactions between Soil, Agrosystems and Water Systems (UMR LISAH, INRA, IRD, Montpellier SupAgro) studies the functioning of cultivated landscapes resulting from interactions between: i) the soil, the landscape substrate, ii) the agrosystem, which is the source of forcings and modifications in the geometry of landscapes, and iii) the hydrosystem, the generator of water and mineral transfers. The unit’s objectives are:

  • to generate knowledge on water transfers, soil erosion and the ecodynamics of pollutants in soils and rural catchments relative to their natural and anthropogenic spatiotemporal organization
  • to develop tools to assess and prevent hazards induced by human activities in cultivated environments affecting hydrological regimes and the evolution of water and soil resources
  • to contribute to developing new sustainable land management methods
  • to train students on concepts and tools concerning analysis and modelling of the spatial organization and hydrology of cultivated environments.

LISAH’s scientific approach is based on: (i) field studies and hydrological experiments, (ii) methodological research on the acquisition and processing of spatial data on the soil and landscape, and (iii) the development of distributed hydrological modelling approaches to serve as tools for risk analysis and evaluation of cultivated environment management and usage scenarios.

The laboratory pools expertise in soil science, hydrology and agronomy, and is divided into three teams conducting research on:

  • Water and pollutants in cultivated catchments
  • Erosion and sediment transport
  • Spatial organization and functioning of cultivated landscapes.

LISAH manages OMERE (Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Environnement Rural et de l’Eau -), an environmental research observatory that analyses the impact of human activities on physical and chemical erosion of Mediterranean soils and on water quality, focused on two catchments: Roujan (Hérault, France) and Kamech (Cap Bon, Tunisia). OMERE consists of consortium of four partners: UMR HydroSciences Montpellier, the Institut National de Recherche du Génie Rural et des Eaux et Forêts (INRGREF), the Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie (INAT) and UMR LISAH.

UMR LISAH, which is based in France (La Gaillarde Campus, Montpellier) and in the Mediterranean Basin, also relies on its network of partners, with the main ones belonging to the scientific community in France (e.g. Institut Languedocien sur l’Eau et l’Environnement) and abroad (generally in the Mediterranean region). Research stations have been developed in Morocco, with the Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire et l’École Nationale Forestière d’Ingénieurs, and in Tunisia, with INRGREF, INAT and the Direction Générale de l’Aménagement et de la Conservation des Terres Agricoles of the Tunisian Ministère de l’Agriculture.

LISAH has developed activities in tropical environments focused on the study of environmental impacts on water and soils in intensively cropped areas in partnership with the World Agroforestry Centre in Kenya, the Office of Science for Land Development in Thailand, CIRAD and INRA in Guadeloupe.

The main areas of research concern studies on the agricultural impacts of pesticide pollution of soil and water in vineyards in Languedoc region (France) and in West Indian banana plantations, analysis of the hydrological cycle of the ‘soil-crop’ system in small Mediterranean catchments, the development of digital soil mapping methods and soil information systems, the analysis of soil erosion and sediment transport triggering factors and processes in catchments, and studies on the impact of water development projects (ditches, benches, hill lakes) on the hydrological functioning of cultivated soils and catchments.

Director: Jérôme Molenat

23  scientists

Unit website

List of research examples/projects for the resarch unit UMR LISAH Laboratory for the Study of Interactions between Soil, Agrosystems and Water Systems (in French) on Agronomy: crops and cropping systems topics

Impact of global changes on water and agricultural productivity in the Mediterranean region

Mapping the water status in a vineyard by thermal infrared remote sensing. In situ device for measuring real evapotranspiration in a vineyard plot by the turbulent covariance method. - M.Galleguillos © UMR LISAH

Agriculture has a vital socioeconomic development role in northern and southern Mediterranean regions. This sector is known to be particularly sensitive to current and future global changes. LISAH is contributing to the development of decision support tools and adaptation strategies for the benefit of agrosystems affected by these changes. Three major initiatives (...)

Persistent soil pollution and health safety of horticultural pesticides–a case study of chlordecone in the West Indies

View of the elementary catchment of Féfé, Guadeloupe © J.B. Charlier

Chlordecone is an organochlorine pesticide that was used from 1971 to 1993 in the West Indies. This molecule is stable and continues to persist in the environment, resulting in chronic contamination of the environment and certain crops. Little is known about the dispersion mechanisms of this pesticide, which is highly adsorbed on soils with elevated organic matter (...)

Assessing the hydrological impacts of cropping practices in Mediterranean environments

Vineyard plots weeded mechanically with a tined implement. Under the effect of successive rains, a crust forms on the soil surface, leading to a reduction in infiltrability. © P. Andrieux

In catchments in which cropland accounts for a major share of the area, cropping practices are an important factor with respect to increasing risks of soil erosion and diffuse pesticide pollution of water. These risks are assessed on two complementary scales, i.e. cropping practice implementation (crop plot) and integration of their effects (catchment).




Update on 19/04/12


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