Duration: 6 months (May-October or June-November 2021)
Employer: INRAE Montpellier
Model-driven experimentation in agroforestry
INRAE is Europe’s top agricultural research institute and the world’s number two centre for the agricultural sciences. Its scientists are working towards solutions for society’s major challenges concerning food, agriculture and environment. Agroforestry (a combination of trees and crops or animals) is recognised as a way of developing sustainable, resilient agriculture and combating climate change. However, agroforestry systems are complex systems, with many interactions between trees and crops (competition for light, water, nitrogen, impacts on the microclimate, etc.) that vary according to the species and pedoclimatic conditions. In order to better understand the functioning of these systems, we have developed a mechanistic model, Hi-sAFe, which can simulate all these interactions and predict the growth of trees and crops in an agroforestry system. So far, the model has been tested to simulate the behaviour of winter crops, but not yet summer crops. For summer crops, for example maize, the model predicts in particular that the presence of trees will not only reduce the biomass of the maize grown under the trees, but also its irrigation water requirements, which can be useful in a context of dwindling water resources.
Objectives of the internship
The aim of the internship is to conduct maize experiments in different environments (in full sun, in agroforestry south of the trees or north of the trees) and under different irrigation regimes (optimal water comfort or reduced irrigation), in order to test the model's predictions concerning phenology, LAI dynamics, biomass production, and ultimately maize yield under these different conditions. The experimental approach will be original in that the model will be used to conduct the experiment, combining past data and weather forecasts to predict cropping operations and experimental measurements to be carried out in the following days.
Bsc or Msc student in agronomy, with a strong appetite for fieldwork (experimental monitoring of a crop) and an interest in modelling. Personal skills: autonomy and rigour. Technical skills: R language for statistical analyses. Knowledge on maize and/or ecophysiological measurment techniques would be appreciated.
UMR ABSys (formerly UMR SYSTEM)), INRAE (formerly INRA), Montpellier, France
About 600 €/month (depends on the number of days worked)
How to apply?
Send your CV and cover letter to Christian Dupraz (christian.dupraz at inrae.fr).