An overview of the recent approaches to terroir functional modelling, footprinting and zoning
Abstract. Notions of terroir and their conceptualization through agro-environmental sciences have become popular in many parts of world. Originally developed for wine, terroir now encompasses many other crops including fruits, vegetables, cheese, olive oil, coffee, cacao and other crops, linking the uniqueness and quality of both beverages and foods to the environment where they are produced, giving the consumer a sense of place. Climate, geology, geomorphology and soil are the main environmental factors which make up the terroir effect on different scales. Often considered immutable culturally, the natural components of terroir are actually a set of processes, which together create a delicate equilibrium and regulation of its effect on products in both space and time. Due to both a greater need to better understand regional-to-site variations in crop production and the growth in spatial analytic technologies, the study of terroir has shifted from a largely descriptive regional science to a more applied, technical research field. Furthermore, the explosion of spatial data availability and sensing technologies has made the within-field scale of study more valuable to the individual grower. The result has been greater adoption of these technologies but also issues associated with both the spatial and temporal scales required for practical applications, as well as the relevant approaches for data synthesis. Moreover, as soil microbial communities are known to be of vital importance for terrestrial processes by driving the major soil geochemical cycles and supporting healthy plant growth, an intensive investigation of the microbial organization and their function is also required. Our objective is to present an overview of existing data and modelling approaches for terroir functional modelling, footprinting and zoning on local and regional scales. This review will focus on two main areas of recent terroir research: (1) using new tools to unravel the biogeochemical cycles of both macro- and micronutrients, the biological and chemical signatures of terroirs (i.e. the metagenomic approach and regional fingerprinting); (2) terroir zoning on different scales: mapping terroirs and using remote- and proxy-sensing technologies to monitor soil quality and manage the crop system for better food quality. Both implementations of terroir chemical and biological footprinting and geospatial technologies are promising for the management of terroir units, particularly the remote and proxy data in conjunction with spatial statistics. Indeed, the managed zones will be updatable and the effects of viticultural and/or soil management practices might be easier to control. The prospect of facilitated terroir spatial monitoring makes it possible to address another great challenge in the years to come: the issue of terroir sustainability and the construction of efficient soil/viticultural management strategies that can be assessed and applied across numerous scales.