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Postdoc : modelling ecosystem services in apple orchards
Deadline for applications
Date of publication


Details on the type of contract
Postdoctoral contract
Duration of contract
The duration (18 months at most)

The minimum gross salary is 2430€/month for a candidate with less than 2 years of postdoctoral research.


Name of unit of assignment
UR1115 PSH Unité de recherche Plantes et Systèmes de Culture Horticoles
Address of unit of assignment
INRA Domaine Saint-Paul - Site Agroparc 228 route de l'Aérodrome CS40509 84914 AVIGNON CEDEX 9
Region of assignment
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur


Working environment


The proposed post-doc position is part of a project aiming to define and implement agricultural practices that allow environment-friendly fruit production. The project is funded by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology – Climate KIC. The general objective of the post-doc position is to develop and use a modelling tool to assess ecosystem services in apple orchards and how they change according to climate scenarios and cultural practices. The postdoctoral scientist will develop, based on existing models, an apple orchard model with fruit trees and a soil compartment representing carbon, nitrogen and water fluxes. The orchard model will be able to simulate, under various climate scenarios and cropping systems (combination of cultural practices), indicators of various ecosystem services related to the fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and water through the air-plant-soil continuum : fruit production, climate regulation (mitigation of GHG emission), water regulation and maintenance of soil fertility (soil nitrogen availability). The postdoctoral scientist will use this model to predict how ecosystem service profiles vary according to climate scenarios and cultural practices and to identify which cropping systems allow reaching balanced profiles of ecosystem services. As stated above, the task of the post-doctoral scientist will be based on existing models. Our group has developed a fruit tree model named QualiTree, which describes tree growth and fruit quality driven by carbon and water factors, climate and cultural practices [1]. Initiallyparameterized on peach [2], this model has been adapted to apple [3]. The post-doctoral scientist will enrich the model by (i) considering the effect of nitrogen on tree growth, (ii) modelling, based on the formalisms of the soil part of the widely used STICS plant-soil model[4], the nitrogen and water processes in soil and how they are impacted by rainfall, irrigation and fertilization, and (iii) connecting the soil model to the plant model. The ecosystem serviceindicators will be outputs of the integrated model. Then, the post-doctoral scientist will perform intensive simulations and use optimization procedures to find, in given climatic contexts, sets of cropping systems tailored to desired profiles of ecosystem services. To achieve this programme of work, the postdoctoral scientist will collaborate with modellers, a computer engineer, and a specialist of multi-objective optimization (host team). He will concentrate on modelling and not on computer programming, which is handled by the computer engineer. He/she will establish an in-depth dialogue with scientists in the fields of plant and soil science and agronomy (in and out of the host team). The postdoctoral scientist will have access to continuing training, scientific and technical information, editorial online resources, as well as all scientific computing tools of the hosting institution (Inra). He/she will benefit from the social policies of the Institute.

List of references cited : 

[1] F. Lescourret, N. Moitrier, P. Valsesia, M. Genard, QualiTree, a virtual fruit tree to study the management of fruit quality. I. Model development, Trees-Structure and Function, 25 (2011) 519-530.
[2] J.M. Miras-Avalos, G. Egea, E. Nicolas, M. Genard, G. Vercambre, N. Moitrier, P. Valsesia, M.M. Gonzalez-Real, C. Bussi, F. Lescourret, QualiTree, a virtual fruit tree to study the management of fruit quality. II. Parameterisation for peach, analysis of growth-related processes and agronomic scenarios, Trees-Structure and Function, 25 (2011) 785-799.
[3] B. Pallas, D. Da Silva, P. Valsesia, W.W. Yang, O. Guillaume, P.E. Lauri, G. Vercambre, M. Genard, E. Costes, Simulation of carbon allocation and organ growth variability in apple tree by connecting architectural and source-sink models, Ann. Bot., 118 (2016) 317-330.
[4] N. Brisson, B. Mary, D. Ripoche, M.H. Jeuffroy, F. Ruget, B. Nicoullaud, P. Gate, F. Devienne- Barret, R. Antonioletti, C. Durr, G. Richard, N. Beaudoin, S. Recous, X. Tayot, D. Plenet, P. Cellier,
J.M. Machet, J.M. Meynard, R. Delecolle, STICS: a generic model for the simulation of crops and their water and nitrogen balances. I. Theory and parameterization applied to wheat and corn,
Agronomie, 18 (1998) 311-346.

Training and skills required

Required skills

We look for a dynamic, rigorous and autonomous candidate able to conceive process based models and to use them for prediction purposes, and having had a first successful experience in modelling.
Experience in agronomical/(agro)ecological/soil science/forestry modelling is suitable. A strong interest in the functioning of plant and soil in interaction is required. The candidate should be able to communicate with scientists from different disciplines. The knowledge of French is not required, but proficiency in English is necessary.


Interested candidates can contact the following persons for information and application (please use the 4 addresses when applying):
Françoise Lescourret (francoise.lescourret@inra.fr)
Daniel Plénet (daniel.plenet@inra.fr)
Gilles Vercambre (gilles.vercambre@inra.fr)
Michel Génard (michel.genard@inra.fr)
Your application should include a cover letter, with a brief description of your research interests, a detailed CV (including a list of publications) and the names and addresses of at least two references. The deadline to send your application is November 25th, 2018.


Françoise Lescourret / Daniel Plénet / Gilles Vercambre / Michel Génard