ILVO Newsletter April 2019

Ready, set, go!

Intestinal health in pigs: New research and service platform

pigIntestinal health research as a way to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms of zootechnical performance, health and nitrogen emissions in pigs - that is the purpose of the recently launched platform BigDarm. Knowledge about subjects such as the intestinal microbiome, metabolomics, epigenetics and classical performance characteristics are bundled, which brings the research to a higher level.

ValgOrize project launched! Research on the valorization of seaweed and micro-algae as food for the European market

Valgorize - Interreg - 2 Seas Mers ZeeënHow can we grow seaweed and microalgae in a sustainable way while ensuring their suitability for food applications on the European market? The products must have consistent quality and a good flavor palette. Twelve partners from Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Great Britain aim to answer that question via the new Interreg-2 seas Project ValgOrize. ILVO coordinates.

ILVO sets first steps to map spread of antibiotics and antibiotic resistance through manure; follow-up research looks at effects on crops and humans

antibioticsAntibiotics – use them well and only when needed! ILVO has developed a method that allows mapping of the distribution of antibiotics in the environment. With this method, 69 antibiotics can be detected at the same time, including colistin, a difficult to detect but very important human drug. A first exploratory screening of a limited number of antibiotics in a limited number of manure and soil samples indicates the importance of further research.

Animal-friendly methods for euthanizing sick or weakened hens and turkeys

hens and turkeysWhat is the most animal-friendly - and feasible - method for euthanizing sick and weakened animals identified in a commercial chicken or turkey flock? That was the main question of a joint ILVO-UGent research project. A decision tree was established to encourage poultry farmers to use a suitable method of euthanizing animals that are selected during daily inspection rounds. Classification of the different techniques was done according to speed of loss of consciousness, stress induced by manipulation, ease of use and cost.

Carbon stocks in the soil

carbon stocks in soilCarbon sequestration in the soil. A correct estimation of the amount of carbon in Flemish soils, that is what ILVO, INBO and Ghent University aspire to in the newly started project C-MON. This baseline measurement is indispensable when evaluating techniques for carbon storage in function of climate mitigation.

Detecting Hepatitis E virus in foodstuffs: how big is the risk for the food chain?

virus in foodstuffsILVO, Sciensano and the universities of Antwerp and Liège are looking for alternative molecular methods for the determination of the infectious Hepatitis E virus in foodstuffs. At present there is a lack of methods that allow to identify HEV-contaminated food products and to demonstrate their risk to public health.

Striking results

“What's learnt in the cradle lasts till the tomb”: can cattle methane emissions be reduced starting at birth or even before?

SieglindeMethane production in adult ruminants happens mainly in the rumen. Adjustments to the rumen microbiome could therefore possibly reduce emissions of this powerful greenhouse gas. Sieglinde Debruyne (ILVO, UGent) studied in her doctoral research whether feed supplements in young ruminants would later influence their methane emission levels. The tested feed supplements ultimately did not deliver the expected reduction in methane emissions, but other effects were observed in the cows and goats being studied.

Matchmaking in the plant world?! Male infertility in celery via protoplast fusion with carrot can give breeders efficiency and stability.

protoplast fusionFor the first time, cells of celery and carrot were fused together and grown into sprouts. Once fully grown, it is possible that these fused plants can no longer pollinate themselves through their own pollen-bearing stamens. Only another celery plant can then provide fertilization. In breeding, this opens up important perspectives. "Male sterility is very desirable in the breeding of hybrid seeds, because breeding works precisely by crossing two highly controlled and predictable plant lines. And that is not so easy in the case of self-pollinators,” says doctoral student Silvia Bruznican. The technique she applies is also cheaper, faster or more efficient than existing techniques to control pollination.

Under-utilized fish (products) become valuable, profitable feed additives when ensiled

under-utilized fishFish heads and cutting residues from the fish processing companies, as well as landed substandard fish which may not be sold for human consumption, can be processed into higher-quality and more sustainable products than before. In particular, ensilage – a silage technique – makes it possible to stabilise the secondary flows of the (small) Belgian fisheries sector, so that the high-quality fish proteins remain intact while awaiting further processing as ingredients for food or feed. The technique was optimized by ILVO-UGent PhD researcher Mike Van't Land and evaluated nutritionally, biochemically, technologically and economically. The results are very promising.

In the spotlight

ILVO is again partner in a large-scale EU research project on Precision Agriculture: Horizon2020 Project SmartAgriHubs starts.

Kick off in PraagWith the HORIZON2020 Project SmartAgriHubs, Europe is investing in the further development and expansion of digital innovation hubs. These hubs serve as a platform for each actor in the agri-food chain. The aim of this European project is to accelerate the digital transformation of sustainable precision agricultural and food processing. Despite the increasing number of available digital solutions, the use in practice seems to be rather fragmented and limited to the early adopters. SmartAgriHubs runs from 2019 to 2022 with a budget of €20 million. The project is currently holds its three-day kick-off conference in Prague. The partners in the new consortium will then have a first opportunity to network with each other, to share knowledge and common challenges and to focus on the objectives.

Covenant on Cattle Enteric Emissions signed

convenantFor many years now, the cattle sector has been making efforts to reduce its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts are codified and commitments made in the Covenant on Cattle Enteric Emissions 2021-2030, which was officially signed at the ILVO farm in Melle. The Convenant includes statements of commitment from various parties from the agricultural and food sector.

Local brewing barley in Flanders? ILVO and Brewery Huyghe start agricultural experiment

local brewing barley in Flanders?A few days ago, ILVO and brewery Huyghe from Melle signed an agreement on cooperation around the cultivation of local brewing barley. This was done in the presence of Flemish Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Koen Van den Heuvel.
For ILVO, brewing barley is the second brewery-related agricultural crop that gets attention from ILVO, after hops. Minister Van Den Heuvel: "The food processing industry needs raw materials with certain technical characteristics. In this dossier, innovation and guidance will make it possible for Flemish agriculture to produce a characteristic, local brewing barley in the long term."

ILVO Annual Report 2018 now available

Activity report 2018Like a good wine year, 2018 was a European year for ILVO. No fewer than 23 new European research projects (Horizon 2020, Interreg, LIFE, EFSA, and more) were started, including 4 consortia coordinated by ILVO (DISARM, Horti-BlueC, ValgOrize and GEANS). The momentum is infectious. At the date of publication of this report, already 45 European project proposals are being prepared!

Annual report 2018