The research of the Laboratory of Soil and Environmental Sciences (LSE) is positioned in a context of increasing anthropisation of soils, which is a consequence of the expansion of urban, industrial and transport infrastructures, as well as of the intensification of agriculture.
The functioning, spatial extension and typology of those soils strongly affected or created by human activity are very poorly known.
These knowledge gaps have to be filled in order to control the evolution and any impacts on health, ecosystems and water resources of these soils, which are often enriched with polluting compounds. Some of them are already having a negative impact and must be cleaned up. Phytoremediation is one way of doing this. It consists of cultivating plants which accumulate the pollutants in their harvested parts or which favour their biodegradation.
The research of the LSE falls under two headings:
The aim is to understand the functioning and to modelise the future evolution of strongly anthropised soils. Activities are particularly centered around Technosols which constitute a new group, about which very little is known and is yet a potential media for plant production, whether or not for food use (market gardening, peri-urban agriculture, gardening or vegetalisation of degraded sites for example). Work bears firstly on an inventory and characterisation of Technosols, which is indispensable if we wish to understand the way they function. Their evolution is then looked at through a study and modelisation of the dominant pedogenetic processes and their aggregation in particular, which both contains the soil’s history and reveals its current way of functioning.
The objective applied is to develop and optimise phytoremediation crops. Here, plants are grown to extract the pollutants (phytoextraction) or to favour their degradation (phytodegradation of organic molecules). This objective involves developing tools to assess the bioavailability of the pollutants and to predict their transfer into the plants, as well as generating models which could assist the conception and management of cultivation on soils affected by chemical pollution.