2013-2017 | 3 PhD – 1 post-doc | € 800.000


The main objective of AgriGES is to study the response of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions to management practices on local agricultural ecosystems (pasture and crop), in relation to climate. It will focus for each ecosystem on the greenhouse gases (GHG) having the most important impact on Climate Change besides CO2, namely CH4 for pastures and N2O for crops.

For the pasture, the major non-CO2 emitted GHG is CH4 due to enteric fermentation by cattle. AgriGES will investigate the link between CH4 emissions and stocking rate taking into account meteorological conditions and associated modification in the biomass growth dynamics. These modifications influence feeding behavior, diet quality, digestive physiology of ruminants and, in fine, emission rates by cattle.

For crops, the major non-CO2 emitted GHG is N2O as a result of complex mechanisms of nitrification/denitrification in soils. Its emissions occur as intense, sporadic and short events superimposed on a low emission background. The exact timing, duration and intensity of these bursts depend on climatic conditions, soil properties and nitrogen availability, the latter being strongly linked to both N supply and N plant taking. In addition, soil properties are much dependent on management practices such as tillage or residues management. AgriGES will investigate the N2O emission dynamics in response to fertilization events, climate and crop development and quantify the impact of soil tillage practices, residues management and intercrop management on N2O fluxes.

To reach these goals, we have built a young and multidisciplinary team combining expertise in micrometeorology, animal science, crop science, soil science, water science and microbiology. We propose an experimental approach mixing observation and experimentation that heavily relies on and will reinforce existing and well-equipped experimental facilities of our Faculty. Our research themes lie within the research priorities defined by the Faculty in its strategic plan for the next six years.

The flux techniques used are a combination of a (i) micrometeorological technique (eddy-covariance) for both ecosystems, (ii) herds with direct eructed CH4 concentration measurements and with inert tracer technique for CH4 enteric fluxes at the pasture and (iii) automatic chambers for soil N2O fluxes at the crops. The flux measurements will be complemented by a wide range of potential flux driver measurements, some of them innovative like cattle activity and geo-localization sensors or soil enzyme activity. The combination of state-of-the art flux techniques and extensive and innovative flux driver follow-up, still very rare worldwide, should end in a better understanding of underlying mechanisms of CH4/N2O emissions for the different agricultural practices investigated. This knowledge is crucial for the estimation and modelling of GHG emissions from agricultural systems and for the selection of the best mitigation strategies.


Ecosystems – Atmosphere Exchanges
Bernard HEINESCH (coordinator)

Crop Science Unit
Christine MOUREAUX
Bernard BODSON

Animal Science Unit
Yannick BLAISE

Water-Soil-Plant Exchanges
Aurore DEGRE

Precision Agriculture
Frédéric LEBEAU

Microbiology and Genomic Unit