Wetenschap - 2 juli 1998

English Summary

English Summary

English Summary
  • The Dutch government intends to impose a ban on agricultural production at the edge of fields. The aim is to improve biodiversity at the borders and to decrease the amount of pesticides in the surface water near the fields. The farmers fear that weeds and plant diseases will enter their fields from the wild edges, but plant scientists from Wageningen have evidence that the natural enemies of parasites survive in the wild edges and may decrease the exposure to the pathogens. Environmental groups complain that wild edges wider than one and a half metres are too small to change the effect of pesticides on water quality. They will fight the government's proposal in court
  • Cotton production in the southern part of Mali is decreasing because of soil degradation and plant diseases. Using more fertilizers and pesticides is not the solution for both ecological and financial reasons, says local researcher Daouda Sidibe, who is doing fieldwork for his PhD in Wageningen. He is studying the use of mycorrhiza, moulds that help plants to extract nutrients from the soil. He now intends to plant trees with useful mycorrhiza to improve soil fertility in a natural way. Whether his approach is successful remains to be seen, because intensified land use has limited the plots of fallow land which play an important role in the restoration of soil fertility
  • WAU mathematician Eligius Hendrix helps economists, environmental and technical scientists to optimize their research computer models. Models produce a variety of solutions. If you look at the models as a hilly landscape, you have to find the highest or lowest point in the field. What makes this type of mathematics difficult is that you have to assume that you have reached the lowest point, while there may be a lower valley behind the mountain. A research model often produces several optimal solutions, states Hendrix. In these cases practical scientists respond that there is something wrong with their data, while Hendrix can show them that the structure of the research model is responsible for this outcome. He has assisted dozens of colleagues at the WAU with their mathematical research problems and all of them were at his PhD graduation on June 23rd
  • The last WUB before the holiday season: what are the plans of the Dutch students during their vacation period? One intends to visit a friend in Russia, another will meet a friend in Burkina Faso to make a trip, a third one just came back from fieldwork in Costa Rica and needs a rest in Wageningen. Besides travelling, several students will go on courses and camps in Holland to combine a computer course, cooking or making music with meeting new friends outside Wageningen

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