New tools to increase sustainability of the agro-ecosystem

Weeds, plant pathogens and fertility are critical parameters for the productivity of the agro-ecosystem. Conventional methods to address these issues rely on an intensive use of chemicals that aims to regulate and support the production. However the sustainability of such reliance has been questioned and alternative approaches have to be investigated. New tools are therefore emerging to address these issues:

Project 3A

Géraldine LemireDevelopment of formulated elicitors to control bio-agressors of wheat

PhD student: Géraldine LE MIRE (
Coordinator: Haissam JIJAKLI



The research aims to stimulate the expression of the plant systemic defense mechanisms using elicitors. These should help the plant to protect themself from diseases that originate from fungal, viral & bacterial agents and insects. Biopesticides based on these eliciting agents could drive hazardous pesticides use reduction. As only few, limited efficacy, elicitors are commercialized for arable crops this restricts the practical implementation of the method. The objective of the project is therefore to develop a method based on eliciting agents to protect wheat against pests and diseases under different systems of production. Read more…

Project 3B

Luan Nguyen3Impacts of organic matter type and biostimulant products on the growth of wheat and the microbial communities of its rhizosphere under contrasted production systems

PhD student: Minh Luan NGUYEN (
Coordinator: Pierre DELAPLACE


The objective of the project is to stimulate the increase of beneficial microorganism communities and the decrease of pathogenic ones in the wheat rhizosphere, measure the impacts of such changes on soil fertility, link wheat fitness level and plant productivity under different production systems to the composition of the microbial communities found in its rhizosphere, and determine the best agronomical practices to stimulate the beneficial microbial communities. Read more…

Project 3C

béréDevelopment of a new microbial-based control method against phytophagous pests

PhD student: Bérénice FASSOTTE (
Coordinator: François VERHEGGEN


In the ecologically intensive agriculture that is considered, increased reliance on predators and parasitoids of aphids, is an option against this major phloem-sucking pest. Integrated pest management methods are indeed a successful way to overcome the expected decline of pesticides and meets concern of consumers. The identification of environmental-friendly bio-products carrying indirect biocide activity is one promising alternative option.The project will focus on the identification of appropriate formulations of bacteria mixes and associated VOC blends that are attractive for pest natural enemies and therefore that indirectly reduce pest populations in a biological approach. The development of an appropriate large-scale application method, as well as the identification of additional environmental parameters that promote the biological activity of the bacterial formulations will also be investigated as well as the potential impact of these formulations on the plant physiology. Read more…

Project 3D

????????Development of flexible, environmental friendly robotic solutions

PhD student: Sruthi Moorthy KRISHNA MOORTHY PARVATHI (
Coordinators: Benoït MERCATORIS & Bernard BOIGELOT

The aim of the project is to develop environmental friendly robotic solutions for mechanical intercrop weed management. The research will be focused on the robust modelling of the robot’s trajectory, on basis of the fusion of two kinds of signals issued from local and global sensors. The local sensor will be a camera associated to image analysis to detect accurately the plant rows. The global positioning system (GPS) will be used to define the trajectory in the turning movements and when the signal of the camera is lost. The trajectory will be optimised to take into account the size of the field, the energetic autonomy, … The robot will be equipped with a mechanical cutting system. This work will be undertaken under the supervision of partners of FSA (ULg). Read more…

Project 3E

Sofiene-OuledDevelopment of Controlled Droplet Application Technology

PhD student: Sofiene OULED TALEB SALAH (
Coordinator: Frederic LEBEAU


The research aims at an improved retention of pesticides on target to reduce adverse losses in the environment. To meet this objective, a physically based model of retention will be developed to be integrated in a decision support system. On the basis of a theoretical optimisation of the retention based on the crop model, the spray will be directed on specific targets using Controlled Droplet Application (CDA). As weed control is a growing challenge because of increased pressure for agrochemicals use reduction as well as the development of resistance for some problematic weeds, research will be focused on most problematic weed species such as blackgrass. The research will also explore links between CDA and alternative methods as mechanical weed control (MWC) and biological control methods (BCM). This work will be undertaken under the supervision of partners of Faculty of Science (ULg). Read more…