ILVO Newsletter December 2016

ILVO research follows the rhythm of the seasons. From summer to fall, from free-range broilers and grasslandscapes to white mustard and newly planted rows of trees. In this edition of the ILVO Newsletter, you can read how ILVO scientists dig deep into every subject.

Hot off the press

Free-range chickens’ meat quality
free-range chickensChickens with free-range access are lighter than indoor chickens, but recent ILVO research shows their meat has better quality and taste. The meat is juicier and more tender, and contains more unsaturated fatty acids, possibly due to the chickens’ higher exercise level and a diet containing more raw plants and insects than traditional feed.

Cost of organic milk production in Flanders: Higher production costs, higher milk price
organic milkAnnual monitoring of the total cost for milk production at the level of the enterprise may support dairy farmers in their search for measures and strategies to reduce costs at farm level. In addition, insights into the cost structure could be used to enhance negotiation with the dairy industry. Total cost of milk production was calculated for 10 organic dairy farms and discussed with the farmers involved in the study. Their figures were compared with the cost structure of milk production on conventional farms.

White mustard: an early bird! The optimal sowing time for seed production of white mustard
white mustardEarly sowing is the key to short, abundant flowering and high seed yields in white mustard, according to ILVO research on seed production of this cover crop. When sown early (target date April 1), the crop flowers during the period of the longest days (around June 21). This results in maximum seed yields which mature faster in the second half of August.

Smart innovation in agriculture. Developing and realizing innovative ideas through cooperation
smart innovationYou have an innovative idea, but lack the necessary partners or knowledge to transform this idea into a successful result? Or you’re curious what potential buyers think about this innovative idea? The brochure ‘Smart innovation in agriculture’ compiles a set of practical tips and tools to assist farmers in their search for innovation in agriculture. Ghent University and ILVO have developed this brochure based on experiences in two IWT research projects, where a number of innovation networks were studied.

Should sand stay in the sea? Effects of beach and foreshore nourishment on marine fauna.
should sand stay in the sea?Foreshore nourishments as compared to beach nourishment is cheaper and easier to implement, but it can have also less impact on the bottom fauna under certain circumstances. These are the findings of a study conducted by ILVO and Ghent University, commissioned by the Flemish Agency for Maritime Services and Coast.

Take the bull by the horns? Tips for a safe livestock handling.
take the bull by the horns?Stay alert, calm and vigilant when working with cattle. Use personal protective equipment. Follow the correct procedure for any treatment. These are the recommendations of an ILVO-communication ”Veilig omgaan met runderen” (Dutch-language only). This reference booklet brings existing knowledge and tips together to avoid accidents in livestock husbandry.

Hedgerows or tree rows? The financial consequences of hedgerows and agroforestry as ecological focus area.
hedgerows or tree rows?Despite the ecological value of hedgerows, their implementation as ecological focus areas is not straightforward for farmers. Certain forms of agroforestry (e.g., tree rows on the parcel) appear to be more feasible, but this is strongly correlated to subsidies and greening payments. This is the cautious conclusion of researchers from ILVO, UGENT and VITO based on calculations made during an ongoing study of the effects of nature-oriented measures on agricultural parcels.

Ready, set, go!

Making grasslands tolerant of climate change. Landscape genomics and quantitative genetics make a link between adaptation to climate change and diversity in European grasslands.
landscape genomicsNutritious grass will be needed in the future if we want to keep producing meat and dairy products. Increasing drought and more extreme weather conditions are putting pressure on existing grasslands. ILVO has teamed up with partners in France (INRA), Germany (IPK) and the UK (IBERS) to map the natural biodiversity of European grasslands. The final goal is to use this genomic knowledge to breed new, climate-robust grasses with a high yield and nutritional value.

What is the actual status of the sole stock in the Irish Sea?
soleILVO seeks to clear up the uncertainty concerning the state of the sole stock in the Irish Sea and resolve the lack of data by organizing a “science-industry-survey”. Cooperation between the fisheries industry and scientists is essential in this method.

Changes in the Voeren region. Strengthening the regional identity via agriculture, nature, historic places and tourism
the Voeren regionWhy and how is the Voeren region changing? And how can the vision for a high quality countryside be realized? ILVO, together with INBO and VITO, is helping to answer these questions. Using participative processes, new partnerships and governance mechanisms are sought that can contribute to implementing the spatial planning vision for a high quality countryside in the Voeren region.