ILVO Newsletter September 2020

In the starting blocks

Fitter calves? Scientifically supported technical knowledge should improve rearing for profitability and animal welfare.

Fitte kalverenGood practices and concrete improvement actions for veal management in dairy farming is the goal of a new project by ILVO, Inagro, Hooibeekhoeve and Flanders Animal Health Care (Diergezondheidszorg Vlaanderen). The project was initiated as a result of recent, sub-optimal growth measurements on Flemish dairy farms.

OPTIPLUIM: Optimal cultivation of protein crops for poultry feed

mengteelt OPTIPLUIMThe search for alternative (local) protein sources that can be mixed into poultry feed continues continuously. The use of overseas imported soy can hardly be called sustainable. Through a 4-year VLAIO-LA trajectory, ILVO, together with partners Inagro and proefhoeve Bottelare (HOGENT/UGent), wants to provide Flemish arable farmers, poultry farmers and the animal feed industry with tools for the use of locally grown, protein-rich legumes.

Proteins from residual flows of seaweed and legumes: using biorefinery to create new value chains for food and feed

ALEHOOPA sustainable and inexpensive solution for the recovery of biofunctional and technological proteins is the goal of the European project ALEHOOP, with ILVO as one of the 16 partners. This project foresees a pilot-scale demonstration aimed at the extraction of low-cost food proteins through a sustainable and inexpensive process, based on residual flows of macroalgae and legumes. The purified proteins will be used in the food and feed sector.

Raywatch will increase knowledge about rays to improve management and help obtain an exemption from the landing obligation

Rog - Hans HillewaertFor a better management of rays, both for stock estimation and as part of the landing obligation, there is an urgent need for (a lot of) biological and survival data. ILVO researchers will therefore focus on commercial sea voyages, armed with new technologies and working in close consultation with fishermen.

Striking results

Exceptional ILVO field trial: New varieties yield considerably more grass than old varieties

nieuwe rassen brengen meer gras opDairy farmers can get up to 20% more grass (in dry matter) from their land when they choose new varieties. This is demonstrated by an exceptionally large comparative variety trial of Italian ryegrass, carried out by the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO). Not only is the yield remarkably better, the grass of new varieties is also more digestible for the cows and more resistant to extreme weather conditions and rust.

The secret enemy of leeks. Integrated control of the allium leaf miner Phytomyza gymnostoma

schade aan preiplanten door larvenExact identification, monitoring and detailed knowledge of the life cycle and control possibilities have come out of 4 years of research on the allium leaf miner. The larvae of this fly tunnel through the leek leaves and make the leeks unsaleable. ILVO, PCG, Inagro and PSKW worked together to develop an integrated control approach.

Testing of terminal sires targets more than 200 boars and a third practicing farm in 2020

Testwerking eindberen - jaarverslag 2019In 2019, the Terminal Sire Testing collected farrowing parameters, carcass results and feed conversion and growth results from offspring of more than 100 additional terminal sires, according to the recently published annual report. This brings the total number tested to almost 200, and means a significant improvement in the data behind the interactive terminal sire selection tool, and thus also more precise advice for management choices in function of genetics. The operation will be further expanded in 2020, with even more boars and ideally also with a third practicing farm.

Sustainable coastal defense: Coastbusters inspires

CoastbustersArming our coast against climate change with nature-inspired design is the ultimate goal of the project consortium of Coastbusters. The results of the first 3 years of research are bundled in the newly published report. A follow-up study under the name Coastbusters 2.0 builds on promising results with mussel beds.

Local European diversity is changing rapidly

Biodiversiteit EuropaBiodiversity in Europe is not disappearing, but local changes are taking place at a rapid pace. This is evident from a European study recently published in Nature Communications, based on 161 long-term series of biological data, both on land and in the sea. Flemish data were provided by ILVO, INBO, VLIZ and Hasselt University.

In the spotlight

5G in agriculture and nutrition: Five times HEALTH as a beacon for ILVO research

5G in landbouw en voedingILVO has shifted up a gear in its integrated research for agriculture, fisheries and food. In the renewed research strategy that is currently being developed, the research institute places its research efforts under a five-fold health approach to the agro-food system:

  • healthy primary production (and seafood catches)
  • Healthy food processing,
  • Healthy socio-economic relationships
  • Healthy consumption patterns, and a
  • Healthy environment.

“We are currently confronted with a health crisis. The ambition is to work on a systemic health of the agrifood chain in our own field of research.”

First large-scale AGRO-ECOLOGICAL PROEFPLATFORM launched in Flanders: Accelerated knowledge building on sustainable agricultural practice

AEEPThe castle of the East Flemish Hansbeke (Deinze) has about 50 hectares of farmland. ILVO has concluded a promising cooperation agreement with co-owner and organic grower Felix de Bousies (company PHAE) and with agricultural consultant and researcher Alain Peeters (RHEA).
The aim is to turn the entire domain into a pilot platform for agro-ecological research, parallel to the normal operation as an organic farm. The theoretical principles of agroecology are applied in daily practice, and through experiments, field trials, innovative techniques and intensive scientific monitoring, the researchers quickly gain insight into the best systems and practices. These are then shared throughout the agricultural sector.

Horti-BlueC Newsletter 2020: decision model for processing biomass waste streams into building blocks for sustainable cultivation substrates for horticulture

beslissingsmodelWithin the European Horti-BlueC project, ILVO developed a decision model to achieve sustainable and circular cultivation substrates. With this tool, the different options for processing several organic waste streams into CO2 fertilizer and raw materials for crop substrates are presented. Through this model, the information obtained from the project about the residual flows, processing processes and resulting products is available.

The cow disappears, the llama appears

lamaRecently, an in-depth article appeared in Trends magazine on the rising prices of Flemish agricultural land, an agricultural trend that is gaining more and more attention in ILVO research. Anna Verhoeve (ILVO) provides extensive information on the increasing use of agricultural land for hobby animals such as llamas, ponies or ostriches by wealthy buyers who are rapidly pushing up the prices of agricultural land.

Survey investigates occupational safety in agriculture

arbeidsveiligheid landbouwPreventAgri and ILVO have launched a large-scale survey to ask farmers about occupational safety on their farms. "At the moment we do not have any scientific figures on this subject, while accidents at work do have a huge impact on the ins and outs of a farm," they say. Prevent Agri and ILVO want to use the results to develop more specific advice where necessary and to develop a long-term policy on safety on farms.

Are you helping us look for MALE HOPS? Where do male hop plants grow in Belgium?

mannelijke bloeiwijze hopThe plants with the 'hop cones' are the female plants. However, a group of researchers is now interested in pinning down the location of male hop plants throughout Belgium.
What if you discover a suspected male hop plant?
Quickly take two detail pictures (of the leaf position and the flowers).
Mail the pictures with your name, your GSM number and the location of the plant (municipality? street?) to
We check the photo, and if interesting, we come to the site. (It is not our intention to take the whole plant with us.).

ILVO guides food companies in the control of Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella

ListeriaThe main focus is on Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella strains that are persistently present in the food company. Through the analysis technique of WGS (whole genome sequencing) and the use of international databases, they can identify a specific company as the cause of a food outbreak better more than before. It is therefore understandable that food companies want to control these Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella problems. ILVO can assist in this. In addition to “on the floor” support, ILVO has also prepared alternative methods that can distinguish persistent Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella strains from transient bacteria without linking to international databases. Everything indicates that this is a good basis for a customized solution.

Coast and Climate, guide to an area-based approach

Kust en KlimaatClimate and environmental factors affecting the coast have now been brought together in a handy guide, This is an initiative of the Flemish Department of the Environment, the team of the Flemish Government Architect and various government agencies, including ILVO.

Flemish minister Hilde Crevits lays the foundation stone of the InnovOcean Campus in Ostend

InnovOceanOstend - Flemish Minister of Economy, Innovation and Agriculture Hilde Crevits recently laid the first symbolic stone of the new InnovOcean Campus of the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) and the Flemish Institute for the Sea (VLIZ). The brand-new state-of-the-art InnovOcean Campus on the East Bank (“Oosteroever”) in Ostend will give marine research a boost. The construction project represents an investment of 20 million euros. Relive the ceremony through this aftermovie.


The other chicken - PlattelandsTV

De andere kip - Evelyne Delezie

Breeding chickens with more attention for animal welfare and sustainability? The scientific project called "The other chicken" looked at all aspects of production, together with all players in the chain. This project is a collaboration between ILVO, Inagro vzw, Ghent University, the Proefbedrijf Pluimveehouderij, and the Landsbond Pluimvee.

The full show (in Dutch) can be viewed at

Meadow milk - PlattelandsTV

Weidemelk - Leen Vandaele

Meadow milk is on the rise in Flanders. The term “meadow milk” applies to milk from cows that graze on pasture for least 120 days per year, at least 6 hours per day.

The full show (in Dutch) can be viewed at