ILVO Newsletter Summer 2019

In the starting blocks

ILVO and Arvesta launch a daring campaign: "Discover soy and pioneer together with us, for agriculture and climate"

soy plantILVO and Arvesta are seeking farmers with a desire and the courage to pioneer cultivation of soy in their own fields. With the campaign “Discover soy!” launched during a recent “machinery days” expo in Oudenaarde, Belgium, they hope to accelerate the introduction of cultivation in Flanders after 7 years of research and field trials.

Soy is a promising new crop for Flemish agriculture with proven benefits for climate and environment. In order to eliminate the remaining bottlenecks, the cultivated area must be now scaled up.

Kristiaan Van Laecke (ILVO): "We are sponsoring this campaign to first gain insight into the influence of soil type and other local variations, and also to get feedback from those who ultimately have to work with the crop – the farmers themselves."

Smart crop protection in potato and fruit cultivation thanks to Flemish technology

smart farmingSmart cameras on drones or tractors can detect plant diseases in agricultural crops. For instance, farmers will be able to detect and treat local sources of disease on their parcels according to the principle of precision farming, leading to better crop protection. The new Industry 4.0-Field Trials 'Smart Farming 4.0', organized by the Flemish government via VLAIO, develops and demonstrates the next three years of user-friendly and reliable applications for potato and fruit cultivation. For this purpose, seven research centers, led by ILVO, join hands.

FreeBirds – encouraging chickens to make better use of their free range

chickenFollowing up individual chickens in free range via tracking systems to gain a better view of their well-being and production, that is the goal of the new FreeBirds project. Knowledge about variation in range use can then be translated into modifications to the design of the outdoor area.



Stable and weatherproof agricultural systems through enriched biodiversity

nematodesHow can we map and promote genetic and functional biodiversity (soil fungi, bacteria, insects...) in a soil, so that agriculture needs fewer external sources? How can we provide increasing and qualitative yields through (plant) disease resilience, climate mitigation and soil health techniques? SOILDIVERAGRO examines the extent to which ecosystem services can positively interact with the stability, resilience and competitiveness of European agriculture.


Striking results

ILVO Research Report for Province of East Flanders: Strong residentialization of vacant farms

Just under 40% of the vacant farms in East Flanders are being converted into villas. This is a source of urbanization that has been underestimated in the countryside. Only 10.5% remain in agricultural use, and even then, often temporarily. The figures are from an inventory prepared by ILVO under the PDPO project 'Farm Reuse, a challenge', initiated by the province of East Flanders. On 3 September 2019, a seminar about the ILVO report was organized by the Province of East Flanders.

LCA (life cycle analysis) in agricultural context? Methodology refinements with indicator soil quality and ecosystem service.

LCAAdjustments in the LCA methodology now allow for better and a more comprehensive evaluation of the environmental sustainability of agriculture and of food products. By working out measurable indicators for the complex concepts of 'restoring soil quality' and taking into account ‘ecosystem services' you get a more refined picture of 'sustainable productivity'. That is the conclusion of Lieselot Boone in a recently defended UGent-ILVO doctorate. We can now better compare agricultural practices to their contribution to sustainability and climate-friendliness. "This is an opportunity for the policymakers. With this custom LCA methodology, you can show farmers more clearly why certain cost-benefit choices are better."

Improved methodology for detecting antibiotic residues in milk and meat

antibiotic residues in milkILVO and UGent have set up an analytical method for antibiotic residues in milk and meat matrices that are faster, cheaper, and at least as easy and reliable than what already exists. In his doctoral study on this issue, ILVO researcher Geert Van Royen mainly recorded remarkable results in the purification phase: he developed a purification with 'pre-programmed' polymers (molecularly imprinted polymers of MIPs). "This is a good step towards an antibiotic sensor, which performs all the analysis phases in one motion and immediately reflects concentrations of residual antibiotics." Now that everyone feels the need to further reduce antibiotic use in humans and animals, it is important to be able to deploy powerful and highly affordable measuring instruments.

Relationship between larval, juvenile and adult populations of sole revealed on a small and large spatial scale

soleYoung sole off the Belgian coast are closely related to sole from the East English Channel, as is evident from the PhD research of ILVO-KU Leuven researcher Sophie Delerue-Ricard. The new knowledge about relationships within and between fish populations contributes to an even more sustainable fisheries management.


World map of soil nematodes published using ILVO data

world map of soil nematodesThe renowned scientific journal Nature has just published an extensive study on the numbers and composition of microscopic nematodes in the soil. No fewer than 57 research institutes, including ILVO as a Flemish partner institute, were involved. The study provides crucial insights into the spread of nematodes and their under-estimated role in the carbon cycle, a key factor in all future climate scenarios.

Access to agricultural land, how does France regulate it? Read the report 'SAFER in the Picture' online now

SAFERIn France, the purchase and sale of agricultural land is heavily regulated by a SAFER (Société d'aménagement foncier et d'établissement rural). The government lays down the vision on agriculture, namely (1) the promotion of agriculture and forestry, with a specific focus on young farmers; (2) the protection of environment, landscape and natural resources and (3) supporting local development and local economy.

In the spotlight

Shrimp in the North Sea are doing just fine, actually…

shrimp in the North SeaThere are many scientific figures about the North Sea fish stocks. Specifically for shrimp, the long-term studies do not show a downward trend. Hans Polet, head of Fisheries research at ILVO: "Some news sources note that 5 times less shrimp can be found in the North Sea. The data collection on the beach that VLIZ is doing with civilian observers is a new way of gathering figures and can play an increasing role in the study of marine life. It's an interesting extra piece of the puzzle. But for the study of shrimp and climate, other figures from scientific surveys and fish stocks can also be taken into account."

Expertise on cattle welfare shared via ILVO Living Lab for Livestock

RundveeloketFor: Livestock keepers, veterinarians, feed agents, breeding advisors, stable construction consultants, agriculture (higher) schools, students, slaughterhouse workers, all sorts of agricultural companies and players...


ILVO strengthens contacts with PERU: Memorandum of Understanding with INIA-Peru signed

INIA Peru and ILVOILVO and its Peruvian counterpart INIA – Peru have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that enables scientific cooperation and exchange, with immediate effect. The ambassador for Peru in our country, and also permanent Representative to the EU, Gonzalo Gutierres came to visit ILVO Melle to witness the official signing.



ILVO writes new edition of the 'Fish and Seafood Guide'

fish and seafood guideFrom now on, ILVO will author the ' Fish and Seafood Guide – for Professional users'. Until now VLIZ and ILVO worked together to provide the editorial staff with annual updates. In a recently-signed Memorandum of Understanding, ILVO promises to take the task from now on alone. The Fish and Seafood Guide is a household name in the broad professional sector of fish chefs, processors, institutes, traders, fishermen and growers. Els Torreele (ILVO): ' They regard the Guide – on paper and digitally – as a rich and reliable source of information on all relevant fishery products. The sustainability assessments of species, fishing grounds, techniques, processing and chains are based on fishing datasets, produced and interpreted by ILVO, for all sorts of applications.'

New campus for VLIZ and ILVO on the east bank of Ostend

new campus for ILVO and VLIZMinisters Muyters and Van den Heuvel recently signed the construction project for the new building which will house both VLIZ (Flemish Institute for the Sea) and the Ostend (Fisheries) department of ILVO on the Oosteroever in Ostend. The new building will be built by General construction Maes (part of the Roey Group). The contract was coordinated by the Flemish Investment company PMV.


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