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Claire Chenu, recipient of the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award, examines soil samples with members of her team, 18 October 2019. © Bertrand NICOLAS - Inra, NICOLAS Bertrand

Down to earth

Claire Chenu is an international expert in soils and soil organic matter, a professor at AgroParisTech and a researcher at INRA. Above all else, however, she is an effective advocate for the use of multi-functional, living soils for sustainable agriculture. Chenu is the recipient of the 2019 INRA Lifetime Achievement Award.

By Catherine Foucaud-Scheunemann, translated by Daniel McKinnon
Updated on 11/20/2019
Published on 11/19/2019

This film will shortly be available with English subtitles

Soils are responsible for the food we eat; they filter rainwater, recycle our organic waste and are reservoirs for biodiversity.  Soils do so much, but currently are under immense pressures. For Chenu, soils have been a lifelong scientific passion rooted in biogeochemistry — the common thread tying together an exceptional career shared between AgroParisTech, where she has been teaching soil science for the past 16 years, and INRA, where she has been dedicated to her research for 20 years.

What processes are responsible for the persistence of organic matter in soils? How does organic matter contribute to the quality and functions of soils? What are the effects of agricultural practices on soil carbon storage?

Through research, teaching and public policymaking, these are some of the questions Chenu is trying to answer. Her work brings together many different fields of study across the life and human sciences and involves a range of stakeholders and decision makers.

Associated Division(s):
Environment and Agronomy
Associated Centre(s):