Wetenschap - 29 februari 1996

English Summary

English Summary

  • It is predicted that the oil and gas fields will be empty within fifty years, which means countries have to start producing energy from biomass. Dutch minister of Economic Affairs Wijers' aim is to produce ten percent of energy required from renewable resources. Hemp is especially profitable for Dutch agriculture, because it produces energy, decreases the emission of greenhouse gases and does not need a lot of herbicides. However, non-food agricultural products are only profitable for the production of electricity, and not for producing green fuels for cars, as is the intention of France, Germany and Brazil. Production of biodiesel from rapeseed is not yet economically feasible, but has mainly been established to satisfy the farmers. Producing electricity from fuel wood and other biomass seems to be more profitable.

  • Research and innovation are no longer linear processes in which scientists produce knowledge and extension officers spread the news. All parties involved do a bit of both nowadays, so that scientists have to interact with the users to identify research aims. The translation of a problem definition into a research proposal should not be driven by the knowledge which scientists have to offer, but by what the users need," says Emeritus Professor Van Dusseldorp in a discussion on this subject.

  • Agricultural production can both contain and stimulate the spread of the malaria mosquito. This general conclusion was made by scientists at a seminar held by the graduate school Production Ecology in Wageningen. During the Roman Empire the northern part of Holland suffered from malaria, but after the swamps were impoldered, the mosquito disappeared. Modernisation of agriculture in Italy helped to stamp out malaria in the 1950's. But in the tropics, new agricultural practices, especially irrigation schemes, cause the disease to spread. In newly irrigated areas in Burkina Faso and Mali, a new type of malaria mosquito is now completely adapted to the continuous availability of water. In contrast to older varieties, Anopheles Morpiens can multiply throughout the whole year. Options to stamp out the mosquito include growing the azolla plant in the irrigation canals so that the malaria eggs have less space, or stocking the canals with fish, which will eat the eggs. A tempora
    ry interruption of irrigation also harms malaria, and at the same time improves agricultural production. If agronomists want to increase irrigated farmland in the tropics, they should also address the problem of how local farmers can beat the malaria mosquitos, the seminar concluded.

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