Research

ELIA

 

We aim at understanding and evaluating economic decision-making to support the development of more sustainable and inclusive food systems, and to promote more sustainable natural resource management.

We investigate topics related to agricultural economics and food policy, and environmental and natural resource economics, using theoretical and empirical modelling. Our geographical focus comprises both the global North and global South, acknowledging multiple linkages at actor, sectoral and regional level. Our applied economic approach provides a strong basis for interdisciplinary collaborative research.

Agricultural Economics and Food Policy

Our research focuses on how food systems can be transformed into more sustainable and inclusive systems. We investigate the decisions made by farmers, consumers and other actors in food supply chains to develop a sound food policy, thereby recognizing the complexity of economic, social and environmental factors driving and affected by food systems.

Research topics include: i) coordination and certification in food supply chains, and ii) labor in transforming food systems, with a transversal focus on gender, nutrition and food security.

Group leader: Goedele Van den Broeck

Projects:

- Agri-food systems in transition: The role of certification in local food systems (2019-2023)

We specialize in four related approaches to development problems. The first approach is the analysis of poverty, its dynamics and its causes, of coping strategies, of the agricultural household and of commercialization. The second approach covers market development, the informal sector, norms and institutions. The third approach aims at understanding land use, land markets (or agrarian relationships) and land conflicts. The fourth approach tackles governance issues, from local collective actions to international aid.

Group leader :Fréderic Gaspart

Impact assessments of public policies and industrial strategies are designed and conducted in the following domains:  circular economy, material and grey field recycling, non-energy extractive industry, water industry, and freight transport.

Leader: Ignace Adant

Group leaders: Philippe Baret

Development and analyses of innovative agricultural systems are performed on several crop systems (buckwheat, oilseed rape, pear; A.-L. Jacquemart). We question the improvement of pollination services using AES (agro-environmental schemes) methods such as managed flowering strips or hedgerows.

Group leaders: Anne-Laure Jacquemart

Group leader: Richard Lambert

Increased temperature regimes and water stress are linked to global climate changes. We analyse the effects of these abiotic stresses on plant flowering and reproductive system (A.-L. Jacquemart). We are particularly aware about the influences of modified floral biology (morphology and phenology) as well as floral resource availability on plant-pollinator interactions. Such interactions are crucial for plant reproductive success and plant yield.

Group leaders: Anne-Laure Jacquemart, Xavier Draye, Stanley Lutts, Muriel Quinet

Crop production or wild species survival depends on reproductive success. From floral biology (including morphology, pollen and nectar quantities and composition …) to hand-pollination and mating system estimation, our research projects are focused on plant pollination and reproduction.

Group leaders: Anne-Laure Jacquemart, Muriel Quinet

Plants genetics and diversity

Crop breeding provides and maintains genetic diversity that constitutes new opportunities as well as an insurance for future adaptations in crop species (P. Bertin). Genetic diversity, structure and gene flow are determinant elements for wild species management and conservation. Clonal structure, genetic diversity conservation, outcrossing rate and gene dispersal offer opportunities for recommendation in wild population conservation and in invasion risk assessment (land planning, nature reserves; A.-L. Jacquemart)

Pollination, insects and reproduction

We are studying pollination since 1988. Pollination remains the first step for the reproductive success of the majority of seed plants. Plants require pollinators to transfer pollen from the anthers to the stigmas. Pollinators (insects) require plants for food resources (pollen and/or nectar). Plant-insect interactions are usually considered as evolutionary stable strategies (ESS). Floral biology provides data about resource quantity, availability and composition. Pollinator observations determine insect species necessary and efficient in pollination. Insect behaviour and learning (bumblebees) questions patterns in plant-insect interaction evolution. Self-compatibility and inbreeding depression estimations require hand-pollinations. The reproductive success of any plant species is thus estimated and recommendations for species conservation (both plant and insect) are considered (A.-L. Jacquemart).

Methods and concepts in pollination and reproduction are applied to crop species (see above) and wild species. In wild species, conservation of plant and insect interactions in food networks offers windows for recommendations about nature reserve planning such as connectivity, size of the remnant fragments, density and diversity of flowering plants within fragments … On the other hand, the same methods provide future predictions and advices to alert for potential risk of invasion in exotic species. Several invasive species have been studied (Prunus serotine, Senecio inaequidens, Impatiens spp., ..)

Group leaders: Anne-Laure Jacquemart