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Tuesday 15 June 2021

On Thursday, June 10, Philippe Choquet, Director of UniLaSalle Rouen, and Jean-Pierre Princen, President of GAÏAGO, launched the "Biomechanisms for Soil Life & Plant Nutriprotection" research and innovation chair, which aims to develop innovative solutions for the reforestation of agricultural land.

"This is a strong commitment to accelerate knowledge and understanding of natural mechanisms and the implementation of solutions that integrate this understanding of life", explains Jean-Pierre Princen, GAÏAGO's President, in his introduction. In front of the journalists present today, he recalled the origin of this start-up "created by farmers" concerned with the improvement of agricultural practices and the importance of relying on the skills of UniLaSalle's AGHYLE (Agro-ecology, Hydrogeochemistry, Environments & Resources) research team to pursue its development, which Philippe Choquet, UniLaSalle's Director General, is very pleased about: "What we like about this research chair focused on agroecology is to get teacher-researchers to work with company researchers in order to stimulate creativity. It's not just a matter of providing services, but of establishing a trusting partnership and working on long-term projects".

Integrating the understanding of living organisms in order to find sustainable solutions

For beyond these exchanges, a vision of a new agriculture is taking shape that wishes to integrate the understanding of living organisms in order to find sustainable solutions: "For more than 20 years, our research unit has been working on understanding the dynamics of soil microbial communities under the influence of farming practices implemented in agrosystems," explains Isabelle Trinsoutrot-Gattin, Director of the AGHYLE Research Unit. "Our work has enabled us to develop a set of innovative technologies and expertise in the field of soil microbial ecology. Aware that knowledge in this field is still incomplete, we are nevertheless convinced that after an approach that consisted in looking at how practices impact soil biodiversity and its functions, it is now time to reverse our gaze and mobilize our knowledge and skills in a preventive approach! ".

A chair to accelerate the agroecological transition of farmers

The Biomechanisms for Soil Life & Plant Nutriprotection research and innovation chair is intended to be both virtuous and productive for farmers, who will be the primary beneficiaries, as Aude Bernardon-Méry points out.

GAÏAGO's Regulatory, Development and Quality Director, she also recalls the "significant results" and the triple return on investment obtained thanks to several solutions developed by the start-up: "We believe that tomorrow's agriculture will be able to use the diversity and complexity of the soil and will no longer be mainly focused on pathogen eradication! ".

Maintaining the productivity and competitiveness of agricultural systems while limiting the use of synthetic inputs are the challenges that UniLaSalle and GAÏAGO will have to meet. Through this chair, whose work will be spread out over a minimum of 4 years, the two structures will continue their commitment alongside farmers in order to support them in their agro-ecological transition.