Research on plant pests is also instructive for the development of research methods

Tholen – NovaCropControl was early on with the introduction of plant sap analyzes in horticulture. Since 2008, the company has mapped the connection between nutrition and plant health. On Wednesday evening, an open evening was organized to involve a wide audience in the research of recent years.

There was great interest in the open evening. There was even talk of a registration freeze

The site was the test site in Loon op Zand, not coincidentally also the place where co-founder Bart Vromans is also a fruit grower himself. NovaCropControl has had a tunnel greenhouse at its disposal since 2018. This year three climate chambers were added at the office in Oisterwijk.

The NovaCropControl trial site in Loon op Zand is located on the TerraVie farm.

Wide audience, young speakers
About a hundred people turned up on the evening, a unique event for NovaCropControl, who had never organized such a trial round before. Before it got dark, they could visit three projects and a presentation by Bart in groups of about ten people. His partner Sjoerd Smits and the other members of the growing team of plant juice specialists were delighted to see a very diverse audience attend the evening. There were, among other things, fruit growers, ornamental growers, nurseries and berry growers. In addition, some suppliers were also present.

The striking thing during the evening was that the presentations were given by many young researchers from HAS University of Applied Sciences, in addition to Bart himself. One of them (credits to Sabine) dropped the ball to let them know where they stand after about four years of research into the new facilities. An idea that was quickly embraced by the rest of the team.

The watering installation, equipped with containers for 30 different food recipes, made an impression.

This resulted in an evening where the current projects were told full of enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Sjoerd supplied the speakers with ‘speech water’, although it was only necessary because of the beautiful summer evening. The researchers probably knew about the studies themselves.

Sjoerd Smits supplies the speakers with ‘talking water’.

New facilities
Bart himself told about the start of his own test tunnels in Loon op Zand and the new climate chambers that NovaCropControl has had since this year. There are three, equipped with both LED and HPS lighting and, unlike the climate chambers that were previously available, also the ability to control the climate. According to Bart, the NovaCropControl team has been continuously asked over the years if they would also like to open a trial location abroad. This was deliberately not chosen. “We want to know more about the relationship between nutrition and plant resistance and not travel more”, laughed Bart.

Drainage water is collected under the gutters, separately for each experiment.

In the Mini-Air tunnel greenhouse, researchers can examine all kinds of crops, just like in the climate chambers. A challenge in the tunnel greenhouse is that it can get just a little warmer than in a glass greenhouse, and that the temperature drop at night is also more difficult to control. However, this is possible in the climate chambers.

Above each tray has its own food recipe.

Each study consists of at least three replicates. This is a requirement for plant sap specialists who both have their own research agenda and who carry out research for third parties. In the latter case, the requirement is that the research is about plant resistance. “It could be about crop protection, but last year, for example, an oxygen system was tested here to investigate the effect on plant resistance using plant sap analyses.”

A lot of snakes to feed all the experiments separately.

Five spearheads
A few years ago, our own research deliberately focused on five spearheads: whitefly, aphids, powdery mildew, phytophora and botrytis. This year, the focus is on aphids, powdery mildew and phytophora. What was striking was that the researchers regularly indicated that they had taken a step back in the research. The reason for this is that the research methods were sometimes found to be suboptimal. If the results using a method, even if it has already been used elsewhere in research, are widely different, the plant juice specialists will first be sure of this. Studies of powdery mildew in tomatoes and the relationship between nitrate and aphid sensitivity have provided such a new research method.

It was a beautiful summer evening.

More about the studies discussed will follow in a subsequent article on this channel.

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