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Hélène Marrou

Hélène Marrou

session, year:
2016 2nd

Former fellow

Receiving laboratory:
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas

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Mobility project

a Multiscale Approach for designing Legume-cereal sYstems: towards improved resourCe use Efficiency

Green revolution approaches have reached their limits in the Mediterranean region where input resources like water, nitrogen are getting scarcer and expensive, and need to be protected. Meanwhile arable land and workforce resources are being threatened by urbanisation and societal mutations, yet agricultural productivity and food security still need to be reinforced. Management of these four limiting resources (water, nutrient, land and work) requires more holistic approaches in research, considering the whole cropping system or farming system. Diversification of cropping systems is foreseen by the scientific community as a major lever to improve resource use efficiency, yet understanding and prediction of how diversity can beneficiate system efficiency and resilience remains limited. We propose to address how diversification of crop rotations combined with water and fertilizer (nitrogen) management adapted to farm constraints can improve farm productivity, resilience and resource use efficiency within a frame of constraint where arable land, water and fertilizer availability are limited. We will use field data and greenhouse experiments in addition to crop modelling tools combined into a bottom-up approach, to understand the physiological levers that support resilience use efficiency from field to farm. At rotation and farm scale, we will test different resource management strategies and assess how they impact resource use efficiency, under limited availability of water and nitrogen. The overall goal of this project is to provide an evidence-base to help farmers in the Mediterranean region to make strategic decisions regarding crop sequences and crop management at farm scale.

Biography & research interests

Hélène Marrou holds a PhD in Agronomy from Montpellier Supagro (France) where she is now an assistant professor. Her teaching focuses on modelling and crop physiology while she conducts her research on Mediterranean cropping systems within the SYSTEM group (http://umr-system.cirad. fr). She developed knowledge on conceptual modelling, bioclimatology and crop physiology, conducting the first agronomic assessment of innovative mixed systems combining crops and solar panels (so called "agrivoltaïc systems"). She acquired proficiency on numerical crop models with Pr. T. R. Sinclair at North Carolina State University. She is currently developing research actions on cereal legume rotations for the Mediterranean region, using modelling approaches to explore options to optimize resource (water and nitrogen) availability and resource use efficiency across scales, from field to farm. She is leading the D4DECLIC Arimnet project (2017-2019) and participating to other international projects targeting Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and France.

Selected publications

Rodriguez D., DeVoil P., Hudson D., Brown J., Hayman P., Marrou H., and Meinke H., 2018. Predicting optimum crop designs using crop models and seasonal forecasts. Nature, Scientific Reports. 8:2231. Doi:10.1038/s41598-01820628-2.

Marrou H., Ricaute J.J., Ghanem M.E., Clavijo Michelangeli J.A., Ghaouti L., Sinclair T.R., 2018. Is Nitrogen accumulation in grain legumes monitored by growth or ontogeny? Physiologia Plantarum. 162. 109-122.

Marrou H., Vadez V., Sinclair T.R., 2015. Crop survival of drought during establishment: an interspecific comparison of five grain legumes. Crop sciences. 55(3): 1264-1273.

Ghanem M.E.+, Marrou H.+, Biradar C., Sinclair T.R., 2015. Production potential of Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) in East Africa. Agricultural Systems, 137, 24-38. (+ equal contribution)

Marrou H., Sinclair T.R., Metral R., 2014. Assessment of irrigation scenarios to improve performances of Lingot bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) in southwest France. European. Journal of Agronomy. 59, 22-28.

Awards & patents

2013: Silver Medal from the French Academy of Agriculture rewarding 10 excellent PhD theses in agriculture (France)

2007 : Tisserand Medal from the French Academy of Agriculture : Top 5 French graduate students (MSc1) in agronomy


cropping systems, water, nitrogen, arable land, resource use efficiency, crop modelling, modelling