vue3D_1The Ecotron is a tool to study agro-ecosystems including plants (crops and weeds), animals (insects an other invertebrates) and micro-organisms.  It is design to simulate in a realistic way the actual and future environmental conditions, including air and soil conditions.  Daily and seasonal variations can be reproduced and the variability is controlled.  The studies focus on the plant growing dynamic, in interaction with environmental growing factors and under biotic and abiotic stresses.

The effect of the global warming are studied both on the agricultural crops and on the biological diversity taking into account the complexity of the interactions, particularly the allelopathy sensus lato.  In the studies a particular attention is granted to the soil, in which mineral elements and living organisms are tightly linked and which play an important role from the fact of being at the interface of the different environmental spheres (atmo-, bio-, hydro- and géo- speres).

The Ecotron as a capacity for ten crop grow chambers though six will be build in a first step. The area also include service facilities and laboratories.

 

The crop grow chamber

Capture d’écran 2016-01-29 à 15.48.17

In each chamber actual and future climatic conditions can be reproduced.  Different parameters can be controlled :

  1. Air temperature, humidity, turbulences, air renewal, [CO2], [O3] ;
  2. Light intensity (solar spectrum) ;
  3. Precipitations ;
  4. Temperature and water potential at the base of the lysimeters.
  5. Lysimetre’s mass ;
  6. Temperature, humidity et soil water potential
  7. Leachate volume (mass)
  8. Gaz exchanges

DSC_1005The chambers are closed and all the environmental variates are reproduced artificially, including the light.  A special care has been taken to reproduce the solar spectrum including the UV, PAR and IR parts.  The climate in the chambers is thus totally independent from the one outside.  Its volume is enough to accommodate crops up to 1,5 m height such as grass, wheat, colza, …  In order to avoid bacteriological and insects contaminations, the Ecotorn and the surrounding laboratories is in a L2 biologically confined area.  The chambers are sealed and equipped with airlocks.

The soil is in a lysimeter and introduced in the chamber from the floor below the chambers so as to be level with the chamber floor.  Smaller containers may also be introduced the same way.  By controlling the precipitation volume and by measuring the leachate volume and the soil mass, the complete water balance may be estimated.  Apart from the meteorological and soil variables, the plants and the ecosystems can also be monitored.

Présentation PPT environnement is life

3D view in section of the crop grow chamber floor and a lysimeter.

 

T2s

3D view of nine smaller containers in the crop grow chamber.