ILVO Newsletter February 2017

At the start of the new year, we look back at recent achievements and forward to new challenges. ILVO continues to work on healthy food, ornamental plants as we like them, an efficient and sustainable production of meat and vegetables, and so much more. Best wishes for 2017 and have fun reading!

Hot of the press

Under investigation: silage maize variety trials
silage maize variety trialsIs the evaluation of silage maize varieties robust with regard to factors such as maturation and silage? And how can we take into account cell wall digestibility and a stay-green character? During her doctoral study, Jolien Swanckaert examined the methods currently used to assess maize varieties.

Nematode research helps Ethiopian tomato farmers tackle root-knot nematode problems
nematode researchRoot-knot nematodes are a major cause of yield loss in Ethiopia and other tomato-producing areas. ILVO-Ghent University researcher Awol Seid gained knowledge about the distribution of root-knot nematodes in Ethiopia, the resistance level of (local) tomato cultivars and sustainable use of this resistance.

Causes and impact of skin ulcerations in flatfish: the first research breakthrough
skin ulcerations in flatfishScientific research has shown that skin ulcers may be elicited by two bacterial pathogens, Vibrio tapetis and Aeromonas salmonicida. Notably, it seems that these pathogens are more likely to cause skin ulcerations after prior abrasion of the skin. Studies on the effect of pulse exposure on the development of skin ulcers will assist in clarifying to what extent, if any, pulse fishing plays a role.

Lameness in sows: a health and welfare issue
lameness is sowsIn December 2016, ILVO-UGent researcher Elena Nalon defended her PhD “Lameness in sows: visual assessment and effects on mechanical nociceptive thresholds”. Key questions were “How can we reliably measure lameness?”, and “Are lame sows hypersensitive to pain?”.

Sole in the Irish Sea: do fishermen and fisheries scientists see things from a different perspective?
Sole in the Irish SeaFishing opportunities for sole in the Irish Sea have declined severely in recent years. Due to consecutive TAC and quota reductions Belgian fishermen fear the loss of a historically important fishing ground. To determine whether there is a true mismatch between science and industry, ILVO gathered additional scientific data on board of a commercial vessel (i.e. industry survey) and discovered that the conventional scientific survey is a good representation of reality.

Upgrading feed for broilers: unraveling the working mechanism of enzymes that degrade non-starch polysaccharides
grainSome grain by-products can be used in poultry feed, but they often contain so-called non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) that have anti-nutritional effects, One possible solution is to add xylanase, an enzyme that helps break down the NSP. NSP enzymes have three working mechanisms, namely 1) decreasing viscosity; 2) releasing of the cage effect and 3) prebiotic action. How do each of these improve the performance and health status of broilers? This was the central question of an O&O project done by ILVO in collaboration with UGent and Agrimex. The aim was to unravel the relationship between these working mechanisms, metabolic parameters, performance parameters and the characteristics of the feeds used.

Ready, set, go!

Internet of Things in the European and Flemish agriculture and food sector
Internet of Food and FarmAs one of the leading partners in the European H2020 project “Internet of Food and Farm 2020” (IoF2020), ILVO contributes to the large-scale introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) in the European and Flemish agriculture and food sector. In this way, the transformation of agriculture and food into smart networks of connected objects has also begun in Flanders.

Delicious fruit and vegetable juices
fruit juiceWithin the collective research project HighQJuice, ILVO is exploring different processing technologies to achieve high-quality fruit and vegetable juice (or puree) with maximum preservation of the juice’s qualities (taste, color, etc.). Innovative techniques for milling, pressing and pasteurizing are combined, and the final product is assessed for composition, flavor, color, and microbial properties.

Compact ornamentals without plant growth regulators
compact ornamentalsILVO and Ghent University are developing an innovative technique using co-cultivation with Rhizobium rhizogenes to obtain compact ornamentals. Next to evaluating and optimizing this technique for four crops, a network has been set up to quickly disseminate the new knowledge to Flemish companies and to promote innovation within the ornamental plant breeding sector.

Plant toxins in food supplements
ANAPLANTOXFood supplements may contain plant toxins, but which ones are allowed and in what doses? Which toxins are important and how can they be traced? In order to ensure consumer safety, ILVO and CER Groupe are developing standardized, sensitive and reliable methodologies for analyzing plant toxins in food supplements.

Mould growth in apple (products)? Biosynthesis and possible prevention of patulin
mould growth in appleCould certain environmental factors affect the growth of the fungus Penicillium expansum and its production of the mycotoxin patulin? Under which conditions does this mycotoxin stay stable, thus presenting a danger for consumers of contaminated apple juice and apple fruit leather? In a joint doctoral research project, ILVO and INRA attempt to further unravel the biosynthetic pathway of patulin and study possible preventive measures.

Sensory technology in dairy cattle: bridging the gap between developers and farmers
4D4FWhat is the current best practice for sensor technology use in dairy cattle? How can dairy farmers implement it on their farm? 16 different businesses, organizations and research institutes, including ILVO, form the European thematic network ‘4D4F’. This network aims to bridge the ‘innovation gap’ that exists between dairy farmers and technology developers.

Towards a pragmatic approach to nitrogen on Flemish cattle farms
ammonia emission of cattle barnsHow can we better measure ammonia emission of cattle barns? Is it possible to improve the existing programmatic measures? Together with Inagro, Hooibeekhoeve and Innovatiesteunpunt, ILVO is trying to find answers to these questions. The ultimate goal: useful and effective emission-reducing measures.