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Laure Waridel Bursary, 2017-2018 Edition

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The New Laure Waridel Bursary Winner Proposes a Neat Solution to Climate Change: Store Carbon in Agricultural Soils!

The 10th Laure Waridel bursary winner has been announced: Marie-Élise Samson, a PhD student in agronomy at Université Laval, who is studying agricultural soils’ capacity to store carbon and fight climate change.

For 10 years now, Équiterre and the Caisse d’économie solidaire have been awarding the $10,000 bursary to students helping to change the world so they can disseminate the results of their promising environmental and social research.


[VIDEO] Marie-Élise explains her project to members of the Équiterre team in a Q&A session (French only) 

Reduce GHG and dependency on artificial fertilizers

According to Marie-Élise, “not only does carbon storage have the potential to reduce the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere, it could also improve soil fertility and health, and reduce dependency on artificial fertilizers.” She is currently working with world leaders in biological system modelling to determine the best farming practices.

As Laure Waridel, an eco-sociologist and Équiterre co-founder, explains, “The bursary encourages young people in a similar situation to the one I was in when Équiterre was founded. They want to find solutions, conduct research and be part of the action, too. Marie-Élise epitomizes this drive and ambition!”

HOW FARMING CAN HELP FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

When we asked Marie-Élise what the motivations for her research are, she replied: “Soil for growing crops is a nonrenewable resource, so we have to learn how to use it sustainably to ensure food sovereignty in the future. People often see farming as a source of pollution. But if we focus on better understanding soil-plant-atmosphere systems, farming could become a solution—not a problem!

Carbon is the building block of life. It is stored in animals, plants, oceans and soils. The problem is that conventional intensive farming has contributed to a drastic decrease in soil carbon stocks. The question now is what farming practices would improve soil carbon storage and restrict the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.”


 Farming practices studied by Marie-Élise and researchers in an effort to determine their effect on carbon storage, as well as on soil quality and fertility.
(Images left to right: tillage method, fertilizer source, crop residue management)

RESEARCH, RAISING AWARENESS AND POLITICAL ADVOCACY AT THE GLOBAL LEVEL

Marie-Élise is currently in France, working with world leaders in biological system modelling. She hopes to use their study results to fine-tune software that predicts the impact of different farming practices.

For Karen Ross, Équiterre’s Pesticides and Toxic Substances Project Manager, “soil has so much potential. It’s an emerging field, and we’re seeing tremendous advances. We know that small changes in farming practices can significantly reduce environmental impact, and Marie-Élise’s work is a reminder that those changes don’t have to adversely affect farmers’ incomes and food quality. Équiterre is delighted to join Marie-Élise and her team in encouraging Canada, as well as wheat, soybean and corn growers, to play an important role in mitigating climate change.”

FACTS ON Marie-élise BACKGROUND

  • Bachelor of Agronomy (Focus on Soil and Environment): Laval University, Quebec (2013)
  • Master's degree in soil physics and hydrodynamics: Université Laval, Québec (2016)
  • PhD in plant biology: Université Laval, Quebec and Agro-campus Ouest, Rennes (in progress)

ACTIVITIES within the laure waridel bursary program

  • 6 months internship at Agrocampus Ouest, France.
  • Presentation of the results of her research to agronomy students from Laval University and students from the Institute of Agri-Food Technology of La Pocatière.
  • Presentation aimed at high school and CEGEP students in order to make them aware of the social impacts, but also the environmental impacts of their choice as food consumers.
  • Collaboration with Équiterre to fuel discussions and impact public policy.

BLOG posts, pictures and updates on her research

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