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L'Unité Expérimentale de Gotheron développe des programmes d'expérimentation-recherche sur les systèmes de production durable en  ARBORICULTURE  fruitière (abricotiers, pêchers, pommiers, poiriers). © MAITRE Christophe

Water and agriculture

Research programmes 

In addition to the knowledge produced and published in international scientific journals, INRA also does work on water resources, an area for which it offers Collective Scientific Expert Reports and prospective studies to aid public policy-makers.

Specific inter-organisational research programmes

  • The regional "Zones Ateliers" or Workshop Zones study the relationships between human societies and water resources. There are zones in France, including the Seine (PIREN - Seine), Adour, Moselle, and outside of France, which include the Amazonian frontier, the savannas of West Africa, and Antarctica (glaciology, etc.). The Workshop Zones are led by a group of French public scientific and technological establishments (EPST) which study the environment: CNRS, INRA, IRSTEA (formerly Cemagref), IRD, universities, BRGM, EPHE, Grandes Écoles, etc.
  • Research projects on catchment areas:
    Roujan Basin (Hérault, Montpellier, viticulture), Lake Geneva (phosphorus, eutrophication), Vittel Basin (development of recommendations for farming techniques, as part of the “Fertimieux” programme, which aims to prevent water pollution due to nitrates and phosphates, in collaboration with the Chamber of Agriculture for the Vosges département, Bruyère Plateau (nitrates), Bourville (erosion), Rennes Kerbenez-Naizin (landscape ecology)
  • The Environmental Research Observatories (ORE) were developed in 2001 and established in 2003. The ORE enable long-term observation of soil and water ecosystems. They are organised by networks at the national and European levels with local integration. In collaboration with BRGM, IRSTEA (formerly Cemagref), CIRAD, CNES, CNRS, IFREMER, IPEV, IRD, LCPC, and Météo-France. Collaboration with these organisations allows pre-existing observation services to be used within the Observatories of Sciences of the Universe.


 Partnership agreements

  • Onéma/INRA agreement, signed 9 May 2012, to strengthen cooperation in sustainable water management and the restoration of aquatic environments: joint actions, shared centre in Rennes, France
  • IFREMER/INRA agreement signed in 2006 for the preservation, exploitation and optimisation of aquatic resources.


Joint and national programmes

  • Several projects on water have been proposed as part of the programme “Agricultural Research and Sustainable Development” (2004), which was further pursued through a French National Research Agency (ANR) programme:
    Appeau 2006: which agrosystems and public policies for a sustainable management of water resources? Tools and methods for regional management,
    GeDUQue 2005: Agro-ecological and organisational innovations for sustainable management of water quality in monocropping regions with high plant protection product use levels,
     Copt 2005: Creation of regional observatories for agricultural practices
  • A thematic project on water as part of the ANR Systerra programme: ecosystems, living resources, landscapes and agriculture.
  • Acassya 2008: Supporting the agro-ecological evolution of breeding systems in coastal watersheds.
  • Joint Research Unit – Tools and methods for quantitative water management
  • Agro-transfert Poitou-Charentes
    Created in 2000, the Agro-transfert Poitou-Charentes is leading the following projects: Nitrogen and water quality management, growth and water management models, plant crossbreeding and water quality, boosting lupin cultivation.
  • Agro-transfert Bretagne – Territ’eau project
    The Territ’eau Agro-transfert programme makes a set of tools available for landscape planning and spatial management for agricultural activities, with a view to improving water management.


Collective Scientific Expert Reports and prospective studies to aid public policymakers

  • Pesticides, agriculture and the environment: a Collective Scientific Expert Report was compiled at the request of the French Ministries for Agriculture and Fisheries and Ecology and Sustainable Development by INRA and IRSTEA. This report reviews the state of our knowledge in this area, on which actions could be based aimed at reducing current levels of the use of pesticides and their environmental impact. (Seminar to present the results held: 15 December 2005).
  • Drought and agriculture: this Collective Scientific Expert Report examines the effects of agricultural methods (both irrigated and non-irrigated) on water resources, and explores avenues to maintain and develop drought-resistant agricultural practices (Seminar to present the results held 19 October 2006).
  • Water and aquatic environments: the stakes for society and challenges for research. This prospective study, the report for which was published in 2003 was produced by a joint working group from INRA and IRSTEA (formerly Cemagref).
  • Scenarios for French fish farming to 2021. September 2007. INRA, IFREMER, CIRAD, CIPA (Interprofessional Committee for Aquaculture Products), ITAVI (Technical Institute for Aviculture) and various companies.


Support, partnerships, training

INRA supports innovation by economic players. For example, it participates in competitive clusters and contributes to technology transfers (R&D). Many researchers at INRA provide initial and continuing training for scientific and technical managers in the area of water.