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ILVO press release - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

In vegetable cropping, tillage and nitrogen fertilization can be better harmonized for soil quality

On 15 March 2016, Koen Willekens defended his doctoral thesis, “Nitrogen dynamics in relation to soil management and soil quality in field vegetable cropping systems.” The promoters were Prof. Stefaan De Neve of Ghent University and Dr. Bart Vandecasteele of ILVO.

Result: improvement of production potential, a healthy soil and less nitrogen in the environment.

“Nitrogen fertilization in vegetable cropping can be better adjusted to soil quality and the way it is tilled,” according to ILVO-Ghent University researcher Koen Willekens when he defended his doctoral thesis. Using a series of field trials and measurements on practice fields, he refined the knowledge of nitrogen availability in the soil and crop uptake of nitrogen when growing vegetables. In this way he researched the effect of soil improvement measures – such as no-till systems and the use of compost or cover crops – on the soil quality and the nitrogen utilization. In conventional vegetable farming, compost and no-till appeared to be the most efficient measures to maintain soil quality. The introduction of these measures requires no short-term adjustment of the mineral N fertilization, according to the researcher. In organic farming, an important role of grass/clover as a mowing green manure or as cover crop, but the method and the time of destruction deserve due attention.

For more information, see the ILVO website or contact the researcher.


Koen Willekens, PhD:, +32 485 17 93 91
Greet Riebbels, ILVO communicatie:, +32 486 26 00 14
Bart Vandecasteele, promotor:
Stefaan De Neve, promotor: