ILVO Newsletter June 2019

Ready, set, go!

Ambition with soil. The added value of adding biochar for sustainable land use.

BASTABiochar from residual biomass is an economically valuable and sustainable end product: that is the starting point of the BASTA project. Within the project, several biochar types are selected for further scaling and application in manure and biomass processing, and substrate cultivation. The aim is to achieve 25% less greenhouse gas emissions & ammonia, 10% higher process efficiency, 10% less use of chemical pesticides, 30% less nutrient losses, 10% more holding capacity and 20-40% peat replacement.

European research Project PATHOFLAX aims for disease control in fiber flax

vlasFrance and Belgium provide 80% of the worldwide production of fiber flax. As disease occurrence is increasing and can lead to significant loss of income, eleven French and Belgian universities, research institutes, sector organisations and companies are looking for solutions to prevent diseases in flax cultivation over the next four years using Integrated Pest Management.

ILVO and RBINS-OD nature inventory macro-and micro-plastics in the Belgian fishing areas and on the beaches

marine plasticsThe research partners of the EMFF-FIVA *-research project MarinePlastics have launched a study that accurately maps how much and what types of plastic appear in the Belgian fishing grounds. It involves both larger pieces of waste (macro plastics larger than 5 mm) and minuscule plastic particles (micro plastics smaller than 5 mm). Since 2012, Europe has been asking each Member State to collect figures around macro plastics on the seabed. From this year onwards, data must also be collected around micro-plastics in the sediment and in the water. The waste on the beaches must also be monitored by Europe. The MarinePlastics project also examines the extent to which microplastics are popping up in the commercial fish from our fishing areas. The researchers make the distinction between the plastic particles in the fish stomach (which people do not consume) and the fish fillet (which we do eat).

The footprint of Flemish fisheries

BenthisThe new European procedure for assessing seabed impact gets a boost by (helping) the Flemish fisheries to develop and apply fishing gears and fishing grounds. Through the project, Flemish fisheries and its stakeholders are given a voice in European developments in the field of research into soil impact, advice and management.

Network of networks. EURAKNOS wants to form a basis for a European knowledge platform for agriculture, horticulture and forestry

EURAKNOSEURAKNOS wants to maximize the use of practical knowledge in agriculture, horticulture and forestry by setting up an open knowledge database. All this knowledge will be connected and easily made accessible to the end user, farmer, grower and forester.

Striking results

Botanical gardens and arboretums as hotlines for diseases and pests

botanical gardenTwo 'first mentions in Belgium' of tree diseases on elm and cedar: The ‘sentinel network ' of botanical gardens and arboreta founded by the Meise Botanical Garden, ILVO and CRA-W, proves its usefulness.

Vaccinated pigs – better control of Salmonella infections?

pigVaccination of sows against Salmonella Typhimurium has a positive effect on the amount of maternal antibodies in the piglets, and vaccination lowers the number of infected lymph nodes of slaughter pigs, which is evidenced by results of the project SUSALVAC. However, vaccination may complicate national monitoring programmes.

The typical recreational fisherman at sea: a 56-year-old West Flemish man

recreational fishermanWith this profile you can type the angling, shrimp catching, beach operating hobby fisherman. The 2900 Belgian recreational fishermen, when taken together, fish more than one and a half million fish and about 100 tons of shrimp. Of these, 52% of the fish is discarded while the remaining 48% is taken home. A comprehensive study by VLIZ and ILVO Fisheries was carried out in close cooperation with nearly 300 hobby fishermen.

Internet-of-Cows: combination of sensors on neck and leg works better than one sensor for detection of heat and calving in dairy cattle

Internet of cowsSensors that continuously measure the lying, walking, standing, eating and chewing behavior of dairy cows can predict the source and calving between 2 and 24 hours in advance with high accuracy. The combination of sensors does better than one sensor, especially at the last moment for heat or calving, when a fast response is crucial for both cow and dairy farmer. Doctorandus Said Benaissa: "This points to the usefulness of the further development of multi-sensor monitoring systems as an alternative to the current one-sensor solutions."
Thanks to his PhD research, dairy farming is another step closer to efficient total monitoring. For a sector characterised by larger herds, this offers interesting perspectives.

Optimal phosphorus content reconciles good crop yields with limited phosphorus losses

phosphorus contentOn behalf of the VLM (Flanders Land Commission), researchers from ILVO, the Soil Service of Belgium and the KU Leuven have set targets for phosphorus levels in the soil. Positive news is that good crop yields and limited phosphorus losses to ground and surface water go hand in hand. In the new 'Code of good practice', farmers find practical tips for how to get their phosphorus levels, slowly but surely, towards the targets to be attained. Patience is required. ILVO-researcher Fien Amery, says that it will take decades to reduce the current high phosphorus levels in the soils of the many Flemish parcels within the set target values.

In the spotlight

Staying under the radar with food infections? No more!
New molecular detection techniques are a game changer.

Lieve HermanWhole Genome Sequencing (WGS) is the latest analysis technique with which micro-organisms get a very detailed fingerprint. The technique is so strong that it can distinguish organisms from each other to the level of bacterial strain. 'For the food companies there is a true revolution to come,' predicts Lieve Herman (ILVO’s Food Pilot). From now on the whole world can be traced how the spread of a strain happened. Also outbreaks where the origin has not yet been revealed will be able to be found retroactively.'

ILVO, HOGENT, TRIAS and Peruvian farmers and researchers join forces around potato-TUNTAs

TriasILVO, HOGENT and TRIAS have a Peruvian delegation visiting the Food Pilot (ILVO BRUSSELSESTWG. Melle) to get the production of so-called “tuntas” (freeze dried potatoes) in a cooperative factory in the Andes. Flemish food technologists perform in Belgium together with the Peruvians worked on experiments and analyses. The development cooperation project aims to make the indoor-produced tuntas as high-quality as their outdoor-produced equivalents, and make it possible to produce year round – even in the rainy season.
Due to climate change it has become difficult, if not impossible, to apply the traditional production method for tuntas. Traditionally the potatoes are soaked in the icy, dry, open air in the high alpine freeze for weeks.
Tuntas – pure white bitter potato tubers – take a central place in the daily diet of the Andean population. For Peruvian farmers, they are a major source of income.

Sign up for our demo project ' Climate in pig stalls ' and optimize your stable climate

climate in pig stallsDo your pigs have health or animal welfare problems that may be due to a suboptimal stable climate? Sign up for the demo project 'Climate in pig stalls' and get a closer look at your stable climate.

Reminder: Ghent welcomes Europe's largest scientific conference on animal production

EAAP 2019From 26 to 30 August, the ILVO organises the annual ' EAAP Congress ' on animal production at the ICC in Ghent. On this 70th edition, more than 1300 scientists, experts and stakeholders from industry and government will be discussing the theme of "Animal production for a healthy world".
Online registration is possible until August 15. If you register before 1 July, you will enjoy the preferential rate. After 15 August only registrations are possible on the spot.
More info: or contact Sam De Campeneere (


Also check out our vacancies.