ILVO Newsletter September 2017

During this dry summer, water is dominating the thoughts of many a farmer – and researcher. Where do we find enough water for the pigs during a drought? How is the soy crop performing under unusually dry Flemish conditions? And if the rain comes bucketing down, how can we prevent the soil from washing away? Water and much more…in the summer edition of the ILVO Newsletter.

Hot of the press

First Flemish soybeans soon to be harvested

sojaAlpro, AVEVE, ILVO and the Flemish Department of Agriculture and Fisheries have all done their part to support the growth of a soy crop in Flanders for human consumption. Five farmers have taken the step to start professional soy cultivation. Their collective harvest is already estimated at 100 tons.

Erosion reduction in vegetables and maize: GOMEROS continues to build on the convincing results from the first year of field experiments
erosionHow can erosion be prevented in maize and vegetables? How can run-off of water, sediment, nutrients and pesticides be prevented? The GOMEROS project, in collaboration with farmers, investigates which cultivation practices work best to reduce erosion without crop yield losses.

Peeking at the neighbors - Agroforestry networks across Europe
agroforestryAllowing farmers to exchange questions and ideas on agroforestry across borders is the purpose of the AFINET project. Regional Agroforestry Innovation Networks will be started in various regions including Flanders.

Selectivity adaptations in fisheries: project DiscardLess presents catalog of fact sheets.
fisheriesWhat selectivity adaptations are possible in the fishing industry? Which were tested, and what were the results? Within the European project: DiscardLess, ILVO contributes to a dynamic catalog of fact sheets per type of selectivity adaptation. So fishermen find the right information to adjust their gear to the specific catch and quota restrictions they encounter.

Yam without nematodes!
YAM marketsAn overview of the nematodes causing problems in yam in West Africa and a novel screening technique for resistant cultivars are the results of the ILVO-UGent research of Yao A. Kolombia. With his study, important steps are made towards reducing crop losses (up to 78%) in the cultivation of this African staple crop.

More room for agro-ecology in ag training
agro-ecology‘Agro-ecology’ is little known and rather difficult to grasp, even for farmers. That is the conclusion of a 2-year ILVO project done on assignment of the Department of the Interior. To increase current and future farmers’ understanding of agro-ecology and its practical application will take effort, in the areas of education, the sector and society. The need for experience-based learning, and learning networks to guide and stimulate exchange between teachers, is clear. Further, collaboration between the various actors must be stimulated to bundle the fragmented knowledge, expertise, budgets and initiatives. Finally, a broader consciousness-raising campaign is needed about what agro-ecology actually is and what this agricultural model has to offer.

Alternatives for surgical castration of piglets without pain relief: where are we now?
pigCastration under anesthesia results in a known procedure of fattening barrows with a known end quality. The production of boars or immunocastrates may be cheaper, but is hampered by doubts about market acceptance. This is evidenced by the results of the CASTRUM project, a European project evaluating the application of alternatives for piglet castration in terms of animal welfare, meat quality, and practical and economic feasibility.

Ready, set, go!

Deep drainage water as water source for pigs
drinking pigCan deep drainage water on pig farms be an alternative source of drinking water? ILVO and INAGRO are performing trials with piglets, following up farms that switched to this water source and evaluating water treatment methods.

Reducing feed conversion ratio in Flemish pigs
feeding pigsThe greatest cost of producing finisher pigs is feed, representing an average of 50-70% of the total finishing cost. Pig farmers therefore strive to produce as many units of pork as possible while using the least amount of feed. This ratio becomes even more important when feed prices rise. ILVO and Ghent University (UGent) have recently launched a research project to try to reduce the feed conversion ratio in finisher pigs, i.e. the number of kilograms of feed required to gain one kilogram of bodyweight.

Increase the taste and quality of the Flemish pork
varkensvleesWhat is the effect of terminal sire line and time of immunocastration vaccinations on the meat quality? Is it possible to develop a fast detection method for objectively measuring meat quality? What are the needs and demands of the stakeholders of the pork industry concerning taste and/or meat quality? In this long-term research project, ILVO and Ghent University will attempt to answer these pertinent questions. The final goal: to increase the tastiness and technological meat quality of pork currently available in Flanders.

Ammonia reduction in practice: GoedGePASt
cowsAre cattle farmers aware of the ammonia reduction plan (PAS in Dutch) list of ammonia mitigating measures? Are the measures on that list actually feasible in practice? In GoedGePASt, project partners ILVO, Inagro, Innovatiesteunpunt and the Hooibeekhoeve continue on their experiences from GoedGeRUND, the previous demonstration project on ammonia reducing measures for dairy and beef cattle farmers.

Chickens in the trees? Sustainable combination of woody vegetation and free-range poultry areas.
free-range poultryThe ongoing research on growing short rotation coppice in free-range areas for poultry takes on a new dimension in the LegComBio project. In this project, ILVO and the Province of Flemish Brabant (Proefcentrum Pamel) investigate how the same agricultural field can be used more efficient and sustainable through well-considered combinations of woody vegetation and free-range areas for (organic) poultry.

Hygiene in institutional food service. Comparison of metagenomic analysis and classical microbiology for the characterization of microflora on surfaces, hands and in foodstuffs in different types of institutional kitchens.
kitchenHygiene controls in institutional kitchens are important part for preventing food contamination. Classical microbiology is not always sufficient to completely characterize the bacterial flora present. The Belgian Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) has given ILVO and the University of Liège (Ulg) the task of conducting research into the added value of metagenomic analysis in hygiene controls.

Is the tabletop sticky or not? Influencing the adhesive behavior of stainless steel through chemical and physical surface treatments for the prevention or cure of fouling and biofilms.
stainless steelSurface contamination and the formation of biofilms on stainless steel play an important role in food shelf life and production costs. The aim of the CLEANSURFACE project, where ILVO partners with UGent, KU Leuven, SIRRIS, Flander’s FOOD and a consortium of food processors, is to investigate the efficacy of surface treatments, innovative coatings and improved cleaning and disinfection methods.