The Centre for Plant Breeding and Reproduction Research, CPRO-DLO, is in favour of close co-operation with the WAU in order to strengthen the international position of Wageningen. The Centre's core business stretches from molecular engineering for the selection of genes which increase plant resistance to diseases, to improvement of new plant species. The institute carries out fundamental research as well developing breeding options for the agricultural industry. Cooperation with the WAU will only succeed if the researchers think that joint research is worthwhile, says the institute's manager Nic Hogenboom. Sixty percent of the CPRO's income comes from research contracts, which means that personnel has in fact lost out on job security. If the money for certain pieces of research dries up, it will put an end to all our research.
Students and lecturers of the WAU should sign a thesis contract in which the rights and obligations of both parties are laid down. The contract should consist of a description of the thesis subject, a plan for the work and supervision, and how the thesis will be examined. Then both parties involved know what they can count on, says physiologist Mattheij. A clearer idea of the lecturer's supervision may prevent a lot of extra work for the students: I needed quick consultations in between, but I had to make dates with my supervisor every time.
Dutch horticulture has managed to reduce the use of chemical substances to prevent plant diseases and now makes widespread use of parasites to destroy harmful insects. However, the quality of the parasites is at stake, because farmers need an increasingly large number of parasites to eliminate the pathogens. The ichneumon wasp, used by all tomato growers and many cucumber growers, is only half as effective as it used to be. Competition and low prices are making the quality of the wasps a vital issue. Researchers want the introduction of a quality control system
The WAU, being the smallest Dutch university, is very sensitive to the decreasing number of Dutch youngsters entering the university. There has been a decline in the number of enrolments in agricultural studies during the past ten years, and more recently chemical and environmental studies has also been attracting less students. There is hardly any information available about the trends in study choice among students. Popular items at the WAU at the moment seem to be nature and health