My scientific studies have been focussed on soil – water interaction, as a means of:
- assessing the human impact on soils, as the water composition reflects present geochemical processes in soils, while solid composition is inherited, as the cumulative result of all processes occurred since soil formation;
- quantitatively modelling interactions between biogeochemical cycles of elements in soils;
- relating the mobility of major, minor and trace elements with environmental factors, in acid conditions, such as (Al, pH), for which I brought the first (1981–1990) evidence for the importance of polynuclear form of Al “Al13” in Al control by equilibrium with gibbsite and in Al mobility and toxicity;
- relating hydromorphic conditions (Eh, pH) with Fe2+ mobility in solution, contributing to the discovery of fougerite (natural green rust) in gleysols;
- relating anthropogenic inputs (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb etc. from sewage sludge, pig slurry, fertilizers) with heavy metals mobility.
I have progressively enlarged my interests from soil geochemistry to soil science, environmental science and geomorphology, now to cooperation with agronomists and economists.
In addition to academic publications, I have largely developed communications with engineers in charge of either agricultural development or industrial water treatment (Saur, Ondeo, Lafarge) with a global perspective.
I moved during six years to University and then back to INRA to create the research Unit at Aix-en-Provence, from 2000 to 2012. Since 2012, I moved to Avignon, to work on water reuse and salt-affected soils.
I was one of the founders of the European Journal of Soil Science, merging of previous Science du Sol (France), PEDOLOGIE (Belgium) and The Journal of Soil Science (United Kingdom), now the leading Journal in Soil Science. I have been Associate Editor of EJSS since its foundation (1994) to 2015.
I was awarded the Gold Medal of the Académie d’agriculture de France in 2010 for my “contribution to the understanding of physico-chemical processes in soils”.
I was elected a national corresponding member of the Académie d’agriculture de France in 2015. I retired on March 1st 2016.