International Society for Horticultural Science

Horticulture Research International


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The total area of Belgium is 30513 km2 with 67 km coastal line. The yearly average temperature is 9.8 °C and the average precipitation ranges from 675 to 1500 mm in 203 days. The yearly average of days with rain is 195 and with snow is 17. In Belgium there are 1555 hours per year with sun.

Belgium is rather flat in the south-eastern part there are mountains and the north-western part has nearly the same level as the sea. The coast-line is covered by dunes and dikes.

Agricultural production can be considered under de headings livestock 65%, arable farming 13% and horticulture 22%. Horticulture being the most intensive farming with an output in three sections: vegetables 49%, fruit 20% and ornamentals 31%. Vegetable production is practised both in the open and under glass. The most important field crops for direct consumption are chicory (Belgian endives), peas, bean, leek, cauliflower, lettuce, onion, carrot and tomatoes. Belgian fruit production consists mainly of apples and pears. Potplants and arboriculture represent the largest part of the ornamentals. Belgium is the largest producer of evergreen azaleas of the world with 55 million azaleas per year. Cultivation of bulbs remains limited to begonias. Just before World War II Belgium already had a series of institutions actively engaged in agricultural research.

Distribution of Horticulture
Most of the institutes were located in or around both the State Agricultural Colleges (University) of Ghent (founded in 1920) and of Gembloux (founded in 1860) as well as in the "Institut Agronomique de l'Université Libre de Louvain" (1878). From 1946 onwards research stations and laboratories - entirely or partially devoted to horticultural research - came into being. In 1957 the Center of Agricultural Research (Ghent and Gembloux) was founded at the Ministry of Small Enterprises, Traders and Agriculture which led to coordination of the work of state research stations. In 2002, this Center of Agricultural Research has been transfered under both flamish and walloon Ministries of Agriculture authorities.

Nature of Institutes
Agricultural research is carried out by several distinct bodies, i.e.: 1.government institutions by far the most important of all, 2. official or private institutions supported by special funds from the national or regional Authorities, and 3. institutions supported by the provincial or city authorities and by the private institutions.
Research departments of the Ministry of Small Enterprises, Traders and Agriculture now number 14 and are spread over two important agricultural research centres: Ghent with 7 stations and Gembloux with 7. Each centre has a certain autonomy even for budgetary matters. The Directorate-General for Research and Development in Brussels directs the work in Ghent and Gembloux research centres as well as the that of the State Botanical Garden at Meise and some other agricultural research centres. The recent established "Consultative Council of Research and Development in Agriculture" defines the general priorities of research. The Council includes delegates from the administration, universities, advisory services and professional associations. Research executed in the Federal Government Institutions as well as the subsidized projects have to be in agreement with those recommendations. Also engaged in horticultural more basic research are the chairs and the laboratories of the Agricultural Faculties belonging to the Universities of the Flemish and Walloon Ministries of Education. They are located in Ghent, Leuven, Brussels, Gembloux and Liège.
Since 1995, the Federal Government of Agricultural Research located in Brussels has incorporated the agricultural section of the previous Institute for Encouragement of Scientific Research in Industry and Agriculture (I.R.S.I.A.). The main mission of this operational service is to generate, promote and stimulate research for the advancement of agricultural subsidies. This service organizes each year a public call of research propositions and makes a selection of those projects that combine a high scientific level and a serious potential for application in plant or animal production. All Belgian research institutions are eligible to compete for this financial support.
FNRS - established by private initiative (University foundation). The national Fund has been approved by Royal Decree dated 2nd June 1928. It grants subsidies to research workers or for laboratory equipment, fundamental scientific research in particular.
Special research supported by Provincial or Municipal Authorities consists mainly of trial gardens set up by the provincial authorities. There is only one specialized Provincial Institute i.e. in Western Flanders dealing with applied research and also advisory work especially on vegetables (Rumbeke).
Independent Research Institutions engaged completely or partially in agricultural research. The institutions are supported principally by private enterprises, professional associations and similar bodies.

Organisations / Institutes:
Scientia Terrae
Horticultural Trials Center of Wallonia (C.E.H.W)
Centre of Agricultural Economics
Research Center of Ornamental Plants (PCS)
Catholic University of Applied Sciences, Kempen
CRA - Agricultural Research Centre
Gembloux Agricultural University
University of Liege
Catholic University of Louvain (U.C.L.)
Charlemagne University of Applied Agricultural Sciences
University of Applied Agricultural Sciences, Ghent
University of Ghent
Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB)
Catholic University Leuven (KUL)
Agricultural Research Centre, Ghent
Soil Service of Belgium

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Last updated: Thu Nov 6 14:30:07 NFT 2003