ILVO Newsletter May 2020

In the starting blocks

Smart Growers: Smart automation, use of robots and ICT applications for tree nurseries, asparagus and blueberries

Interreg Vlaanderen NederlandSmart weed control and irrigation, and the use of sensors in tree nurseries, asparagus cultivation and the cultivation of blueberries, are the goals of the new Interreg project Smart Growers. Through the introduction of Smart Farming on these farms, the project aims to give a boost to sustainable agriculture and horticulture in the Flemish-Dutch border region.

To swim or not to swim… Reduction of soil flavor in farmed fish through microbial management and optimization of the extraction procedure

kweekvisAvoiding a “soil” taste through adjustments at different levels in the fish farming process is the aim of project FLAVOREDUC. Researchers focus on the reduction of soil flavor molecules, on inhibiting bacteria that produce the molecules, and on optimizing the extraction procedure that “washes” the molecules out of the fish.

In search of valuable habitats on the bottom of the North Sea

NoordzeebodemTo draw up a scientific dossier for the negotiation of fisheries measures in the Belgian part of the North Sea is the objective of the VISNAT2 project. The ultimate goal is to protect as much valuable seabed as possible, without negatively impacting important economic activities such as fishing.

The influence of climate change on food systems

FOSCILVO monitors international research on food security in a changing climate. This is done within a European-African-South American network that maps socio-cultural, economic and environmental consequences. The ultimate goal is to improve resilience and thus reduce the unpredictability of agro-food production, valorize residual flows and reduce food losses.

Real-time measurement of the indoor climate and the emission level of a barn?

stalWithin the European MilKey project, ILVO will develop a monitoring instrument - OTICE - that can support the dairy farmer in implementing and managing techniques to reduce barn emissions. The challenge is to reduce ammonia and methane emissions in particular, while at the same time guaranteeing an optimal indoor climate.

Tailor-made compost for horticulture, arboriculture and ornamental horticulture

Interreg SoilcomTo develop qualitative, tailor-made composts with clearly mapped properties and effects is the aim of SOILCOM, launched in 2019. The first newsletter gives an overview of current field trials.

Striking results

Fertilization and disease control via soil bacteria? Promising results have been achieved in maize plants with cold stress and fungal infection.

maïsBacteria that can improve maize growth under cold temperatures and bacteria that can limit the effects of a fungal infection with Rhizoctonia solani were discovered by ILVO-VIB researcher Stien Beirinckx using the meta-barcoding technique. With this knowledge, researchers can start 'programming' the bacterial root community - the root microbiome - to reduce stress in maize and promote growth. This is the start of a new, promising knowledge development with a view to agriculture with fewer external inputs.

About agroforestry and outdoor pigs

P'OrchardAre trees and pigs a good match? Through the Operational group P'Orchard, practical experiences and bottlenecks about outdoor pigs on agroforestry farms were mapped out. Watch the video.

Is there less fish because of pulse fishing?

pulsnetThere have been clear, mainly local changes in the sole and plaice stock in the southern North Sea, according to recent ILVO research. That research - project PULSVK1 - was set up out of concern among commercial and recreational coastal fishermen about the intensity of pulse fishing in the area.

In the spotlight

ILVO conducts algae feeding tests on meat and laying hens for the first time

Valgorize - Interreg - 2 Seas Mers ZeeënDo hens, and their meat or eggs, benefit from adding algae to the feed? Although the focus of the ValgOrize project is on sustainably and qualitatively produced, tasty algae for human consumption, researchers from the Institute for Agricultural, Fisheries and Food Research (ILVO) are also looking at how the residual products from algae production can be valorized in chicken feed as part of a zero waste approach. The application seems promising; not only do many algae species have a high protein content, they can also be beneficial for the fatty acid and amino acid composition of the eggs, and even influence the color of the yolk. "But the amino acid and fatty acid composition, the digestibility of the feed and the taste of the end product, among other things, are all things we should certainly study before we introduce this as standard practice," says Johan De Boever, feed evaluation expert at ILVO. "We do this with the residual products from the ValgOrize food-related studies.


ILVO organizes GrowingMedia2021, the second international symposium on cultivation substrates, soilless cultivation and compost use in horticulture (ISHS) from 22 to 27 August 2021 in Ghent.

Sessions will include:

  • Cultivation substrates and sustainable use of resources
  • Integrated pest and disease control through interaction with the crop substrate
  • Soilless cultivation: added value of innovations for efficient use of water and nutrients
  • Compost use in horticulture and the potential for carbon storage

More information on the website:

Growing Media 2021