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!