2010 Symposium: Challenges in Northern Wine Regions

Challenges in Northern Wine Regions, 9 April 2010 in Remich, Luxembourg – Viticulture in cool climate regions like the BeNeLux, faces a number of challenges for which specific solutions are to be found:

  • How will climate change affect the production of grapes?
  • What are the most adapted varieties?
  • How to cope with pests, in particular with fungal diseases?
  • How to improve quality?
  • What about alternative markets such as organic viticulture or fungi-resistant table grapes?

The BeNeLux Society for Horticultural Science (BNL-SHS), together with the Administration des Services Techniques de l’Agriculture, the Institut Viti-Vinicole the Société Nationale d’Arboriculture et d’Horticulture du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (SNAH) and the Centre de Recherche Public – Gabriel Lippmann, has the pleasure to invite you to a symposium addressing these topics. The symposium will be held on Friday, 9 April 2010 at the CENTRE DE FORMATION ET DE SEMINAIRES (CEFOS), 12, rue du Château, L-5516 Remich, Luxembourg www.cefos.lu

Please register at horticulture@asta.etat.lu and make the bank transfer before 24 March

Since the number of places in the conference room is limited, the registration will be done on a first come, first served basis. The registration fee, which includes lunch, amounts to € 30.-, without lunch € 20. Members of the BeNeLux-SHS will be granted a € 5.- discount. For students, the fee including lunch is € 20.-, or € 5.- without lunch. Please transfer the money to the Post bank account of the SNAH in Luxembourg, IBAN LU35 1111 0119 9968 0000, the BIC/SWIFT code is CCPLLULL. The address of the Post bank is P&T Cheques Postaux, L-1090, Luxembourg. (for details on how to reach the venue or where to stay see the symposium announcement).

Download the symposium announcement (pdf format)

Download the registration form (Microsoft Word format)


  • 8.45 Registration & welcome coffee
  • 9.15 Welcome of the participants (Leon Wietor, ASTA; Robert Bogers, president of the BNLSHS)
  • 9.30 Introduction and Presentation of the Luxembourgish vine region (Danièle Evers, CRP-Gabriel Lippmann)
  • 10.00 Impact of climate change on the vegetation in Luxembourg (Jürgen Junk, CRP-Gabriel Lippmann)
  • 10.35 Coffee break
  • 10.50 Impact of the climate conditions on viticulture in the upper Moselle region (Steffi Urhausen, University of Bonn)
  • 11.20 Control of grey mold by fungicide and gibberellic-acid inhibitor (REGALIS®) applications in combination with viticultural measures in Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc (Danièle Evers, CRP-Gabriel Lippmann)
  • 12:00 Lunch break
  • 13.30 Organic viticulture (Serge Fischer, IVV)
  • 14.00 Fungi-resistant table grapes and grape juice production (Alfons Klippel, DLR Mosel)
  • 14.30 Optical selection of rotten grapes (Matthias Porten, DLR Mosel)
  • 15.15 Presentation and wine tasting of early ripening traditional and fungi-resistant varieties for cool climates. (Serge Fischer, IVV)
  • 15.45 Riesling wine – Influence of the soil and yield on the quality of Riesling wine with tasting. (Dipl. Ing Harald Beck, Bernard Massard)
  • 16.15 End of the symposium
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Climate change : challenges, risks and impacts on cropping systems

Climate change : challenges, risks and impacts on cropping systems
April 3, 2009 Gembloux Agricultural University

gemblouxClimate change is of general concern and is largely recognized as resulting from negative impact on the environment of human activities. The climate change – cropping-system relationship has a 2-way direction : climate change can impact crop production efficiency while agricultural practices can contribute to climate change by altering the environment.
The Benelux Society for Horticultural Science (BNL-SHS) together with Gembloux Agricultural University will convene a symposium of one day on this matter on April 3, 2009, at the Plant biology bldg, avenue Maréchal Juin, B- 5030 Gembloux, Belgium.



  • 9.00 – 9.30 Registration
  • 9.30 – 9.45 Introduction : Monique Bodson (FUSAGx) and Welcome address : Rob Bogers, BNL-SHS chairman
  • 9.45 – 10.30 Luc Debontridder (KMI/IRM, Brussels): Climate change myth or reality?
  • 10.30 – 11.15 Paul Struik and H. Meinke (WUR,Wageningen): Climate robust crop science : modelling climate change impacts across scales
  • 11.15 – 11.30 coffee break
  • 11.30 – 12.15 Marc Aubinet, B.Bodson, C. Moureaux, D. Dufranne, F. Vancutsem (FUSAGx, Gembloux): Carbon balance of a pluriannual cropping system (4-year rotation) : impact of climate and cropping management
  • 12.15 – 12.45 Martine Maes (ILVO, Merelbeke): New and increased disease incidence in horticulture and green environment
  • 12.45 – 14.00 Lunch break
  • 14.00 – 14. 45 Michel De Proft (CRA, Gembloux) : Climate change impact on crop pests
  • 14.45 – 15.15 Laurent Pfister and Jean-François Hausman (Gabriel Lipmann Institute, Luxembourg): Climate change, an imminent threat for trees
  • 15.15 – 15.45 Marie-France Destain and A. Piron (FUSAGx, Gembloux): Detecting weeds by artificial vision in carrot crops: towards optimization of herbicide/pesticide use
  • 15.45 – 16.15 Kathy Steppe, Dirk J.W. De Pauw, Raoul Lemeur (Gent University): Models as effective tools for optimizing irrigation
  • 16.15 – 16.30 General discussion
  • A. Kunz and Michael M. Blanke (University of Bonn, Germany): Discrepancies in the data analysis and interpretation of climate change
  • 16.30 Drink
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2008 Symposium: Climate change and horticulture

The national societies for horticultural science in Europe decided to cancel their national symposia in 2008 in favour of the First Symposium on Horticulture in Europe (Vienna, 2008). Therefore, the symposium of the BeNeLux Society for Horticultural Science that was planned to be held in Gembloux, autumn 2008, was postponed to 3 April 2009.

The symposium that was planned  to take place in Luxembourg, autumn 2009, has been postponed to the spring of 2010.

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2007 BeNeLuxSHS Symposium: Global Sourcing of Flowers and Food – presentations

The Benelux Society for Horticultural Science (BNL-SHS) together with Wageningen University and the industry convened a symposium of one day on Global Sourcing of Flowers and Food which was held on 23 November, 2007 at WICC – Wageningen.

The majority of the large retail groups have concentrated their acquisition policy on global sourcing of foodstuff and ornamentals in order to have flowers and food available every day of the year with a certified quality and safety.

This imposes all sorts of restrictions and limits to the entire production and supply chains of these products. Both science and industry are struggling with this demand and trying to turn this into an advantage.

Presentations (handouts in PDF available for download) :

Contact: olaf.vankooten@wur.nl

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November 2008 BeNeLuxSHS Symposium postponed !

The national societies for horticultural science in Europe decided to cancel their national symposia in 2008 in favour of the First Symposium on Horticulture in Europe (Vienna, 2008).

Therefore, the symposium of the BeNeLux Society for Horticultural Science that was planned to be held in Gembloux, autumn 2008, was postponed to 3 April 2009.

The symposium that was planned  to take place in Luxembourg, autumn 2009, has been postponed to the spring of 2010.

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Viticulture in the BeNeLux and surrounding countries

The 2010 symposium is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2010 in Luxembourg.

The title of the symposium will be: Viticulture in the BeNeLux and surrounding countries.

Conveners: L. Wietor and F. Kraus (ASTA Luxembourg).

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Welcome to the BeNeLuxSHS website

Welcome to the website of the BeNeLux Society for Horticultural Science. Bookmark this address and check back again soon for more information on horticultural science in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg

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2007 Symposium Announcement: Global Sourcing of Flowers and Food

Global Sourcing of Flowers and Food

The majority of the large retail groups have concentrated their acquisition policy on global sourcing of foodstuff and ornamentals in order to have flowers and food available every day of the year with a certified quality and safety. This imposes all sorts of restrictions and limits to the entire production and supply chains of these products. Both science and industry are struggling with this demand and trying to turn this into an advantage. The Benelux Society for Horticultural Science (BeNeLuxSHS) together with Wageningen University and the industry will convene a symposium of one day on this matter on 23 November, 2007 at WICC, Lawickseallee 9, 6701 AN Wageningen.


9:00 Registration starts
9:30 Welcome (Robert J. Bogers, President of the BeNeLuxSHS)
9:45 Global Sourcing: Just in Time Delivery vs Quality control (J. van der Vorst)
10:30 Teaching global sourcing in an international setting (U. van Meeteren)
11:00 Coffee break
11:30 A European approach to science of global sourcing (O. van Kooten)
12:00 Innovations in fruits and vegetables on a global market (E. Woltering)
12:30 Discussion: Global sourcing, what do we need from the scientific side?
13:00 Lunch
14:00 A breeding perspective on Global sourcing (J. Doldersum, Rijk Zwaan)
14:30 Year round fruits and vegetables, what does it take? (the Greenery)
15:00 Year round flowers, what does that take? (Sander Klaver, Flora Holland)
15:30 tea break
15:50 Why does the retail want global sourcing? (J. de Vriend, Innovative Fresh Support, former Royal Ahold)
16:20 Closing remarks: Global sourcing where do industry, science and education meet? (E. Woltering)
16:45 Drinks

Please register at office.hpc@wur.nl (there are limited places and we work on a first come first placement basis). The cost for the day (including lunch, coffee and tea) is EUR 50 to be paid at the registration desk. Members of BeNeLuxSHS pay only EUR 20 for the entire day and students pay EUR 35 if they join the lunch and drinks, else it is free for them as long as there are places available. Please indicate whether you need special dietary restrictions for your lunch when you register.

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Concluding report 2006 Symposium available

The conclusions of the 2006 Symposium The Future of Horticultural Science and Education: A European Perspective (Brussels, November 2006) are available in a comprehensive report written by Roderik P. Bogers.

Click the text above or use the 2006 Symposium link for more details.

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Report: The Future of Horticultural Science and Education: A European Perspective

The Future of Horticultural Science and Education: A European Perspective

By: Roderik P. Bogers

Horticulture is a blooming business. Not only is it of great economic importance, but it also fulfils an important social function. The horticultural industry is facing several challenges and opportunities that result from globalisation of the market and technological advancements in the production chain. To meet tomorrow’s expectations, the maintenance of an adequate knowledge base and close contacts between educators, researchers, governments, producers, processors, distributors and retailers are essential. A conference on 22 November 2006 in Brussels, organised by the BeNeLux Society for Horticultural Science with the support of the European Economic and Social Committee, the Flemish government and EURAGRI, was the first that brought together all these parties to discuss the future of horticultural science. This article summarises the presentations and conclusions of this meeting.


Horticulture is of great economic importance in Europe, as evidenced by the large value of the production industry and the many employment opportunities that horticulture offers. However, the market in Northern and Northwestern Europe, and also in the new EU member states, is now ruled by large retail chains.

Horticulture plays an important role in the public’s wellness; it contributes to a large extent to the maintenance of food security. Furthermore, ornamental plants and the rural areas needed for horticultural production embellish our landscape and fulfil a social function because they serve as recreation areas. Consumption of fruit and vegetables can prevent or slow down the onset of chronic diseases.  Despite these benefits, consumers are generally unaware of the origin of their food and the role of horticulture.


In order to maintain its strong position in the world, horticulture has to adapt to several changes in the market and the production of horticultural products. These developments include globalisation of the market, an increasing production in developing countries, and a growing influence of the retail sector. Regarding developing countries, especially China will become a major producer of horticultural products.

Developments in the production of horticultural products will be characterised by a decreasing number of growers, while the area used for production remains the same. Growers will also form more alliances and intensify the co-operation with retailers. The increasing production in developing countries may lead to the disappearance of some producers from Europe.


In Europe, a reform of the market regulation for fruit and vegetables is underway. The sector is facing several difficulties, including a negative trade balance due to high imports, trade negotiations, strong pressure from retail and discount chains, a low to average fruit and vegetable consumption, and market crises due to sudden increases in low-priced imported products and production within the EU. The objective of the reform of the Common Market Organisation (CMO) is to create the best conditions for the EU’s fruit and vegetable producers to compete and produce in a sustainable way. The European Commission has not yet adopted the formal reform proposal. There are indications that it would be appropriate to maintain producer organisations in the new CMO, as they are the key tool of the fruit and vegetables CMO. Further, the current schemes for fruit and vegetables intended for processing should be aligned with the new Common Agricultural Policy, and processed products should be introduced in the Single Payment Scheme to make producers more market-orientated and competitive.


The ambitions of producers are to expand their market share, strengthen the position of European horticulture in the world, beat the competition with market-driven enterprise, and improve the position in knowledge areas such as green genetics. The EU can support this by supporting entrepreneurship, creating the right conditions for the playing field and providing funds. These ambitions and developments underscore the necessity of sustaining an adequate knowledge base and a high level of education. This education should not only emphasise traditional horticultural science, but should also focus on knowledge about the market and logistics.

Processors and distributors are concerned with strategy to meet expectations. Their vision is to build long-lasting relationships with leading retailers in managing the daily fresh-produce supply by negotiating long-term sourcing plans, logistic excellence and providing solutions in convenience food. Long-lasting relationships with growers and retailers, as opposed to operating as a spot-market player, could advance mutual profit for growers and the retailers.

The expectations of the produce industry lie in the use of new areas and regions, new cultivars, harvesting and post-harvest practices, logistics (packaging, transport, cold storage, increasing shelf life, and traceability of products) and marketing (consumer research, promotion and communication). Innovation is needed from horticulturists, but the pool of educated people is decreasing.

The consumers’ interests and the way consumers decide to purchase food now involve the concept of authenticity: consumers want their food to be trustworthy and produced with consideration for ethical values like fairness in the supply chain and care for the environment. Consumers’ trust is very much influenced by the response of the producers to their concerns, and thus not only by food safety and associated risks. Consumers look for value for money. At the top of the consumers’ expectations are taste, which must be consistently pleasant, and convenience. Health considerations only play a minor role, because health effects are hard to determine for the consumer, due to inconsistent expert information about food and health.

Consumers’ purchasing decisions for food are based on noticing, buying, consuming and liking food. The liking or not liking can be remembered or forgotten. Repeated purchases occur when food is recognised and remembered as liked. The second purchase is important in the long term: if it is liked, the consumer remembers this purchase, and gets “hooked”. Therefore, it might be a better strategy to let consumers buy good products only, rather than attempting to provide the product the year round, with varying quality.

The horticulture industry can support the consumers’ interests in various ways: it should provide tasty products with no unnecessary risks, provide local produce (as far as climate and season allow), provide variety throughout the year, allow consumers more control, and demonstrate responsiveness to consumer feedback.


Mathematical models can be employed to enhance profit in the whole chain. Dynamic modelling is a technique that combines information on consumer behaviour with production, logistics and marketing strategies. For example, sweet peppers are harvested in batches of different quality, and the ripeness of the fruit at harvest determines how much of the product is lost due to over-ripeness and how much the product is liked by the consumer. Because of this variation in batch quality of fruit and vegetables, profit can be gained from vertical co-operation. Although it may sound counterintuitive, more profit can be made in the chain as a whole if the retailer and the trader share the costs. Profit can also be enhanced if the trader pays for the waste due to over-ripeness.

Horticultural science combines the various sciences needed to develop and implement this technology. Since the success of dynamic modelling depends on good data on product quality and consumer behaviour, the scientist who creates this information will be important. However, before dynamic modelling can be implemented, chains need to get organised in a better way.


Horticultural science within academia is facing problems due to a diminishing number of students and the merging of horticulture departments into more general plant-science departments. To receive input from a wider audience on what contributes to the diminishing number of students and how to reverse this, an internet forum was launched by the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) and the American Society for Horticultural Science.

Generally, the dropping numbers of students who choose a career in horticulture may be explained by three factors. The first is the inability to define horticulture: is it a distinct science or the integration of a broad range of sciences; is it a science or a technology? The second factor is the stigma associated with applied horticultural research and the emphasis on competitive grants. Horticulture is not viewed as an attractive career by students. Furthermore, success in science is based on publications and grantsmanship in disciplinary research rather than applied research and/or the development of horticultural technologies and practices. Thirdly, there is a negative public perception of horticulture. Terms that come to people’s minds are pollution, dirty hands, long hours, low wages, unscientific, a hobby, not glamorous, and a non-lucrative career path.

The question is whether the decline in the number of students can be reversed. Several ideas were mentioned in the forum. Basically these ideas could be categorised as changing the emphasis of horticulture departments, marketing horticulture in the media as an attractive career, and using opportunities during early education to make pupils and students familiar with horticulture.
Finally, there is a debate going on about whether horticulture departments should retain their own identity. Two contradicting viewpoints exist, stating that merging would either result in irreparable harm or aid horticulturists in academic success.


Since no single university can cover all areas of horticulture with excellence, co-operation between educational institutions creates opportunities to improve education in horticulture. The EuroHort thematic network is an informal horticultural network with the aim to co-operate in education on the MSc and PhD levels. EuroHort initially consisted of the CHAINS-iT group (Challenges in Horticulture: An INtensive program for European Students), the NOVA/BOVA Nordic/Baltic University Network, the Euro League for Life Sciences (ELLS), and the BOKU-TUM-Bologna MSc Network in Horticulture. EuroHort today involves 43 partners, including universities, research stations and horticultural organisations. The co-operation consists of various things, including mapping of scientific competencies and modules in horticulture among the partner institutions and promoting employability and modifying educational profiles. Ultimately, the goal is to create a European MSc degree in horticulture and make EuroHort a formal Erasmus Thematic Network.


Can exogenous and endogenous trends in horticulture be combined? Exogenous trends include temporal and geographical variations in the diet (including fruit and vegetable consumption), an increasing emphasis on food safety and quality, mechanisation of production systems, and changes in climate. As a result of the latter, changes occur in plant phenology (e.g., time of pollination and harvest) and the life cycle and epidemiology of pests. This has many implications. For example, plant cultivars that are resistant to diseases and drought have to be designed.

Endogenous trends in science are a shift from high-throughput analytical biology towards integrative biology. Integration can occur at various levels and aspects of horticulture, e.g., integration of data on genes and functions of plants, integration along plant development and horticultural cycles, up- and down-scaling across organisation levels, and comparative approaches across species.

At INRA (France) the exogenous and endogenous trends are combined; there is no separate horticulture department but there are a few multidisciplinary research centres focusing on horticulture. In addition there are multidisciplinary expert groups that deal with the whole chain of fruits and vegetables and ornamental plants. These expert groups map the research system and identify research programmes and projects. Trends and needs that are identified generally are an increasing emphasis on product quality and safety, and more attention to environmental aspects. The question for the future is whether horticulture as an autonomous scientific and academic topic is fading away.


There are opportunities for horticulture in the European Union’s seventh framework programme (FP7). Although the horticulture chain as such is not mentioned as a priority area, many of its constituting processes and industrial and commercial activities can be found in many places in FP7, especially under the headings of “life sciences”. In addition, FP7 offers a multitude of meta-scientific modalities (such as co-ordination actions, knowledge transfer and agenda setting) that are orientated to a better underpinning of the performance of the general knowledge base and are certainly accessible for initiatives from the horticultural sector.


The main points made by the various presenters were summarised as follows: horticulture is important from an economic and social point of view, and there is a broad range of expectations from producers, suppliers, distributors and consumers, which is necessary to make horticulture fulfil its role in European economy. The knowledge supporting horticulture is based on traditional horticultural science, but there is much interesting threshold-surpassing research to be done. However, there is a lack of visibility of horticulture as a coherent science, and global competition will be difficult without an adequate knowledge base. The key question is: how to proceed?  The themes brought up by the audience concerned the visibility of horticulture for the public and students, the sharing of knowledge between commercial companies and universities, and the issue of how to achieve greater co-operation between all parties involved in horticulture.

Visibility of horticulture. Although it was observed that horticulture lacks visibility to the public, there were also encouraging sounds from the audience. Examples of the public’s interest in horticulture include people’s enthusiasm when they visit small farms and greenhouses in the Netherlands at the annual “Kom in de kas” (“Come into the greenhouse”) event. Each year this event attracts 350,000 to 400,000 people.

Sharing of knowledge. Successful co-operation requires that knowledge be shared among colleagues; exchanging knowledge is difficult, however. For example, as a result of confidentiality of commercial research it is hard to have students visit commercial companies. A possible solution is to make good consortium agreements that are useful for protecting and sharing knowledge. A “horticultural cluster academy” was mentioned, where leading persons in the field share ideas with their peers and also with colleagues from outside horticulture. In France, strong relationships exist between universities and industry, while student internships strengthen this link.

Co-operation. The conference made it clear that co-operation between all parties involved in horticulture is essential. Generic issues should be identified so that the whole industry can benefit. With respect to the knowledge base, horticultural science should do more work on logistics and retail. Co-operation can clearly be improved. It was noted that each part of the horticultural sector (research, industry, retail) organises its own conferences. Despite the strong need to bring all parties together, it had also been difficult to achieve this for the present conference.

There was agreement that one partner should take the lead and drag the other partners along. But who will take responsibility, and are all partners coherent in their wishes? There may be reluctance to let another lead. Various panel members were of the opinion that governments should listen to the horticultural sector and take the lead, but the current situation is far from that. For example, in the Netherlands, there is not even one person at the ministry of agriculture who is particularly concerned with horticulture. At the end of the debate the observation was made that serious advocacy of the horticultural sector is needed and that the sector should make its educational needs clear to the government. This was done in Norway for civil engineering, where the industry initiated a reform in education by making its needs clear.

To conclude, the conference has given a new impulse to intensify the co-operation between the various parts of the horticultural sector. The suggestion was made that the next conference theme should be “From Seed to Consumer”; the BeNeLux Society for Horticultural Science is certainly willing to contribute to organising such a conference.

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