ILVO Newsletter March 2020

In the starting blocks

Microbial protein: a new source of protein for feed and food applications

MastersizerWithin the Prometheus project, ILVO will characterize microbial protein sources and investigate the influence of a number of basic processing techniques in the food industry on the properties of proteins. Based on the results, an application matrix can be composed to predict in which foods each microbial protein can be applied.


Counteracting coastal erosion with natural reefs? Experiments in the North Sea now focus on cleverly constructed mussel beds

Coastbusters partnersThe scientific project 'Coastbusters' will receive follow-up funding to further explore the possibility of using living, natural coastal managers to protect coastal zones. Interesting tests have been carried out over the past three years on THREE living organisms: seaweed and seagrass beds, mussel beds and mason worms as reinforcements at the low-water line. The findings around these three lines of thought have been filmed and summarized in this documentary film. (The images may be used in the press, in consultation with ILVO).

More data on catches and less well known fish stocks via Machine Vision technology

VISIMIntroducing Machine Vision into Belgian beam trawling using self-sampling: that is the aim of the VISIM project. This technological approach should result in a larger data flow on catches and discards in this specific branch of the fishery, and on the state of lesser-known fish stocks.


A robot in the field? Co-creation may lead to autonomous cultivation operations.

robot op het veldA thoroughly tested prototype of an autonomous agricultural vehicle: that is the ambitious goal of Interreg project CIMAT. Thanks to extensive innovation and co-creation, the device should contribute to save on labor and increase ease of use, soil quality and perhaps even yield.


BEWARE & NOTE. Development of a system for raising awareness - and rapid detection and reporting - of harmful quarantine organisms in Belgium.

quarantaine organismenDesigning a well-founded, user-friendly and widespread web platform for awareness-raising, alerting, rapid detection and reporting of harmful quarantine organisms: that is the aim of the BEWARE&NOTE project. This initiative aims to help protect crops, gardens, forests, parks and public green spaces from new, harmful infections.

Photo: Copyright Pudding4brains

Striking results

Disinfectants in livestock housing do not cause resistant bacteria, if applied correctly.

desinfectansIn order to prevent and combat animal diseases, stables and their surroundings must be disinfected on a regular basis. However, there are indications - based on laboratory tests - that the use of disinfectants can lead to bacterial resistance. They would then build up resistance not only to the disinfectants themselves, but also to antibiotics. This is not true, if you use the correct dose of the disinfectant,' ILVO-UGent researcher Helder Maertens now knows after her PhD research. Maertens carried out a large series of field experiments to determine the effective risk of resistance development under practical conditions.

Tastiness of pork: it's best not to put immunocastrates on a diet.

tastiness of porkFeeding immunocastrates with a low energy feed in the third stage reduces the palatability of the meat. This is shown by research results of ILVO within the framework of project SuSi. High-energy feed ensures that the meat and carcass characteristics of immunocastrates are more closely related to those of, with tastier meat.

Contact: marijke.aluwé,,

Compactness in ornamentals made sustainable via breeding technology? It is possible.

compactness in ornamentalsIn three ornamentals - violet, Sinningia and Osteospermum - researchers at ILVO and UGent have succeeded in incorporating compactness as a genetic characteristic, by means of a fine-tuned pre-breeding technique and knowledge of genetics. So far, ornamental growers have achieved compact growth by using plant growth regulators, by changing light and temperature regimes, or by adjusting fertilization. "Compactness as a trait is spread over many genes that influence each other in a complex way. Moreover, each plant species is different. That's why the first successes with co-cultivation with Rhizobium rhizogenes are a possible game changer for the industry," says Ellen De Keyser from ILVO. During the upcoming FLORALL fair (3 March - Waregem) the researchers will demonstrate the results and invite ornamental growers to do trials with other ornamental plants.


Regional study on tropical shrimp fisheries shows that in-depth biological knowledge can lead to targeted sustainability and even management simplification.

seabobExtensive sustainability in the fishery requires in-depth knowledge of target species as well as protection of coastal ecosystems, as confirmed by a Flemish-Surinamese study on shrimp fishery in Guyana and Suriname. This fishery already has MSC certification but is taking further steps towards making the seabob fishery more sustainable. This is a shrimp species that is available to us via Dutch supermarket chains, for example in prepared seafood dishes.

Fewer animals needed in fishery research thanks to video and crowdsourcing

fishery researchReflex testing on fish, used to determine the stress state and survival rate after discards, must be correctly conducted and interpreted, and therefore requires training. Thanks to recently published ILVO research on the use of video and crowdsourcing (product improvement based on the knowledge and skills of users), fewer laboratory animals will be needed in the near future. The research also confirms the reliability of the reflex methodology.

In the spotlight

Knowledge sharing and research on agroecology and organic agriculture: ILVO’s latest addition is a Living Lab “Agroecology and Organic Agriculture” (LLAEBIO)

Living Lab agro ecologieILVO has created a living lab for agroecology and organic agriculture, or LLAEBIO for short. The aim is for farmers, researchers and educators, as well as society at large, to find their way to information, cooperation and workable systems through LLAEBIO. For the information and contact function, a central website will be launched:

A brand new ILVO Annual Report - and you’re the first to read it

For the first time we present a chapter on PROTEIN DIVERSIFICATION and many CLIMATE topics, but also some striking projects and results from 2019, such as the PSYCHOLOGICAL WELFARE of farmers in Flanders and LUXURIOUS HOUSES a hidden driver of urbanization in rural areas.

IKM-NET becomes smart and digital. This promises great administrative relief for dairy farmers.

IKMnetAt the Agridagen in Ravels (28 February 2020), ILVO and IKM presented a digital tool that will significantly simplify the administration for the 4,000 dairy farmers affiliated with the IKM (Integrated Milk Quality Management) self-monitoring system. It comes down to the fact that the dairy farmers involved will be able to automatically allows the dozens of forms, invoices, analyses and measurements provided by ILVO and IKM to flow into a personal, digital IKM file.


ILVO and Boerenbond join the European network to stimulate knowledge sharing on sustainable innovation in the meat sector.

bovineResearch institutes, consultants, agricultural organizations, livestock farmers and other stakeholders from 9 EU member states are joining forces to accelerate the exchange of ideas on making meat farming in Europe more sustainable. In the new trans-European network BovINE, they will do concrete work on the themes of socio-economic resilience, animal health and welfare, production efficiency and meat quality, climate and environment. In doing so, the 17 partners will work on the most urgent needs as identified by practicing farmers. In order to make this possible for each Member State, in addition to a research body, an agricultural organization is assigned. The Belgian partners in this network are ILVO and Boerenbond.

Top researcher at ILVO joins OECD scientific advisory body

Lieve HermanThe OECD appoints Lieve Herman - one of the Unit Heads within ILVO - as a member of the Scientific Advisory Body (SAB) of its Cooperative Research Programme (CRP) on the management of biological raw materials for sustainable agricultural systems. Herman is the first Flemish scientist to receive such an appointment. The CRP brings together science and policy at a high level in the fields of agriculture, fisheries, forests and food. "The programme stimulates international collaborations and global data exchange. It gives direction to global policy on global issues such as climate change and food security," says Lieve Herman.


IKM-NET: Because agricultural administration doesn't have to be a hassle.

With IKM-NET, filling out the IKM checklist becomes a piece of cake. Think of the convenience of “Taks-on-Web”, but for your dairy farm administration! IKM-NET is the first application running on the DjustConnect platform.

GEANS: DNA barcoding of benthic organisms in the North Sea

Painstaking work. It currently takes 3 full days to identify the animals in one sample of the seabed. In the GEANS project, a new DNA-based technique is being developed that promises to be much faster, cheaper and more accurate.
To find out more about the GEANS project, please visit our website:

Sustainable compactness in ornamental plants

Beautiful ornamental plants are often “compact”. But compactness does not happen spontaneously – various treatments are required, and they must be repeated with each new generation. ILVO has developed a sustainable way to introduce compactness into the breeding line. Interested? Contact us!

ILVO Newsletter February 2020

In the starting blocks

For a beautiful, functional and open countryside. Sustainable development of peri-urban areas.

ProsperaWithin the PROSPERA interregional project, ILVO will exchange knowledge and experiences about the sustainable development of peri-urban areas. The aim is to protect and promote the development of high-quality open space in peri-urban areas under pressure from urban sprawl, and to promote economic regional development in a sustainable way. This should at the same time promote regional attractiveness (natural heritage) and safeguard the important ecosystem services of open space, such as food production and biodiversity.

ILVO researches optimal housing for rabbit feeders

konijnenThe housing of Belgian rabbits has greatly improved in recent years, with the introduction of enriched rabbit parks. Currently, part-time group housing for breeding does is being researched by ILVO. In practice, it is almost impossible to keep breeders in groups.

Evaluation of landing obligations and ecosystem management measures in European fisheries.

aanlandplicht SanobaTo what extent has an ecosystem approach already been adopted in the management of European fisheries? And what is the state of play with regard to the European landing obligation? In order to find answers to these questions, a research consortium has been set up at European level; ILVO is a member.

INTROSECT: towards a six-legged herd?

IntrosectThe breeding of insects is being heralded as a new, challenging agricultural activity. But what is possible on an existing farm? Which insect thrives best in an existing space? What adjustments are needed and what difficulties do farmers find in rearing insects? INTROSECT will find out.

Microbiome as a link between diet and health: knowledge platform should strengthen research

varkenWhat is the influence of our diet on diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer? And what role do our intestinal bacteria play in this? The international knowledge platform HDHL-INTIMIC was set up to accelerate research into the triangle of diet - microbiome - health.

How do you measure methane emissions from grazing cows?

methaanemissie grazende koeTo what extent can we use sensors and precision farming techniques to map methane emission from grazing cows, and then reduce it through management interventions? That is the dual purpose of research project Grastech.

Striking results

Aquaculture of grey shrimp ashore any closer? Two technical bottlenecks addressed through research

Grijze GarnaalProgress on two bottlenecks that have impeded the aquaculture of gray shrimp has flowed from ILVO-UGent doctoral research. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in successfully cultivating shrimp into juvenile shrimp. Important steps have also been taken in the control and identification of the most important disease creators (viruses) of the native grey shrimp.
Large, living grey shrimp offer many culinary perspectives, but they are scarce and it takes (too) much time and effort to catch them in the wild and bring them ashore. Aquaculture of grey shrimp, certainly of the larger calibers (+7cm), offers commercial prospects over time, if the technical obstacles can be overcome,' says ILVO-UGent researcher Benigna Van Eynde.

A camera that sees more than just shape and color! Food Pilot gives advice on different in-line vision applications

camera hyperspectraalILVO has several cameras with the corresponding processing and modeling software to fine-tune in-line vision inspection systems. They are used for the detection of pests and diseases in the field, but also in processing, such as for the classification of harvested material, the inspection of product quality or the detection of foreign objects. Issues are tested in practice in the Food Pilot and the 'Agrifood Technology' living lab.

Preventing erosion in vegetables and maize: 4 years of GOMEROS

GomerosWithin the GOMEROS project, 34 field trials were done with non rotary tillage, strip-till, full field sowing, adapted planting machines, spine cultivation and much more. Four years of research on erosion in vegetables and maize is now complete. Download now the "crop and technique sheets" for farmers!

Crop residues of maize in the field? Balance between carbon in the soil and raw materials for the bioeconomy can be calculated better after this doctoral study.

gewasresten maïsThe root biomass of maize contributes - relatively speaking - twice or even three times as much to the build-up of stable soil organic matter in the soil as the above-ground crop residues - maize straw - do. Recent ILVO-UGent research by Hui Xu has shown this. In her UGent-ILVO PhD she also discovered that the above-ground yield is not a reliable indicator to estimate the underground biomass. "Anyone wanting to model carbon build-up in the soil as a result of above-ground and underground maize residues on the basis of the measurable (above-ground) yield would be deceived. The amount of root mass is more related to the soil properties than to the plant genetics or to the above-ground biomass".

In the spotlight

2020 is International Year of Plant Health

International Year of Plant HealthThe United Nations proclaims 2020 the International Year of Plant Health to raise public awareness of the importance of healthy plants. Every month, ILVO highlights a disease or pest starting in February.

Local cultivation of quinoa moving quickly. ILVO, Inagro and Praktijkpunt Landbouw Vlaams-Brabant are working together with farmers and chain partners to remove the last obstacles to scaling up.

quinoaIn the short term, a tripling of the acreage of sustainably cultivated quinoa for the local (Flemish) market. That is the goal of Quinoa Lokaal or QUILO for short, a new project in which the research centers ILVO, Inagro and Praktijkpunt Landbouw Vlaams-Brabant join forces with about 20 pioneers and candidate growers, suppliers and potential buyers.
The demand for quinoa in Flanders is growing, due to the trend towards protein diversification and a consumers with specific nutritional demands (gluten-free, low-sugar). Currently, most of the quinoa in Flanders is imported from South America. The acreage of local quinoa is only 50 hectares. This needs to be scaled up.

ILVO builds pilot poultry house in Merelbeke

Onderzoeksstal pluimveeILVO has received €1 million from the Flemish Government for the construction of a pilot poultry house in Merelbeke. In this stable, researchers will study feed composition, animal welfare, animal health, emissions, sustainability and meat quality.

Everyone working together to guarantee a sustainable future for our North Sea in 2050

Thinktank northseaThe 'North Sea Think Tank' is working on a widely supported long-term vision 2050 for the Belgian part of the North Sea. Two working groups, in which ILVO researchers also participated, started work in 2019 on the themes 'Working with nature' and 'Living with climate change'. They are now coming up with recommendations and core principles that stakeholders can already take into account in their operations today. In this way they can guarantee our piece of the North Sea a bright future in 2050.

Pulse fishing in the Southern North Sea: historical context and current regulations

PulskorWhat once started as research into an environmentally friendly and fuel-saving alternative to traditional beam trawling in the late 1970s will end in a ban on pulse fishing in all waters of the European Union starting in July 2021. In the Belgian and French twelve-mile zones, this ban has been in force since 14 August. In this way, the competitive interactions between pulse fishing and other fisheries that favored the previous legislation will disappear. However, scientific research has not yet reached a conclusive conclusion about the impact of pulse fishing on the marine environment. The European Union therefore allows future research into fishing techniques under strict conditions. ILVO, UGent and VLIZ outline the current state of research on pulse fishing in the North Sea in a policy-informing memorandum.

ILVO list of varieties of maize 2020

rassenlijstThe new ILVO variety list 2020 has been published and is available online at The website contains not only an overview of varieties, but also cultivation information and a list of breeders and representatives of the listed varieties. The ILVO variety list contains 7 new recommended silage maize varieties and 1 new recommended grain maize variety.

Livestock feed table 2019: the composition of animal feed raw materials updated

veevoedertabel webappIn the 2019 cattle feed table, the chemical composition and feed values of a large number of cattle feed raw materials have been updated, the classification and feed evaluation of silage has been adjusted, and it is now possible to calculate the effect of silage duration on the feed value of cut maize in the online feed value calculator. The Livestock Feed Table is a reference product of CVB - the Centraal VeevoederBureau - a collaboration between the Dutch Wageningen Livestock Research and ILVO since 2019, under the final responsibility of the Federatie Nederlandse Diervoederketen.

Everything about precision agriculture in vegetable cultivation can be found on the new knowledge platform on "precision in vegetable cultivation".

WikileeksSlowly but surely, precision agriculture techniques are making their appearance in Flemish agriculture and horticulture. Besides GPS control, soil scans, crop measurements and site-specific fertilization techniques are on the rise. The website lays it all out for you.

ILVO is looking for laying hen houses equipped with a P-4.3 system with an external drying tunnel

leghennen droogtunnelThe ILVO emission measurement team has been around for several years already. The goal of our measuring team is to measure emissions from animal housing to obtain reliable and relevant emission figures for Flanders. We do this by order of the Department of the Environment. In addition to generating current emission factors, practical measurements also provide us with new insights. How do emissions differ from company to company? Which factors influence this?


Sorting of fish - Innovative Fishing
A look behind the scenes at ILVO-Innovative Fishing.

Hyperspectral camera VLAIO Living Lab 4.0
ILVO has a camera that can distinguish different types of meat in minced meat. And the percentage of different ground spices. What about foreign objects in the vegetables passing by on a conveyor belt? This is also possible, purely visually, thanks to a hyperspectral camera linked to machine learning software.

BEL-Landschap: a citizen-science project on biodiversity and yield
ILVO and Rurant VZW are looking for hobby gardeners to help with a scientific project on biodiversity and yield. Citizen-scientists from Oosterlo, Zammel, Varendonk, Eindhout, Veerle and Groot-Vorst are needed to maintain the square meter garden and carry out measurements. The gardeners receive tips, group meetings, and personal guidance in the maintenance of the garden.

Grazing cow monitor
"Is my grazing cow stuck in a trench? Where should I start looking?" Now these farmers from Saeftinge can track their cows on the computer, thanks to smart monitors that monitor the whole herd day and night.