Wetenschap - 10 september 1998

English Summary

English Summary

English Summary
  • Who was responsible for the forest fires in Indonesia in the past year: small farmers, large timber companies or El Nino? The WAU remote sensing expert, Dirk Hoekman, is doing research on the Indonesian island of Kalimantan. Together with the Indonesian ministry of Forestry, Hoekman is trying to develop a satellite monitoring system, which will cover 75 per cent of the forests in Indonesia. With our system we can track illegal tree cutters, detect burned areas and assess where the risk of fire is the greatest. One problem: Hoekman cannot track underground fires. The World Wild Fund for Nature is suggesting that one million hectares of peat are still burning at the moment in Indonesia
  • The Agromisa Foundation in Wageningen advises small farmers in developing countries about how to grow crops or organise a farm. Agromisa was started in 1933 to advise catholic missionaries, but this target group has nearly died out. At the moment, eight professional staff and nearly one hundred volunteers answer seven hundred questions each year from small farmers and NGOs in the South, especially Africa. The foundation also produces booklets, Agrodoks, on subjects which receive a lot of questions from farmers and development workers. It is strange that this type of work isn't done in the developing countries themselves, admits Agromisa director Marijke Kuipers, but most local NGOs lack the manpower to start an advisory service
  • Agricultural scientists know a lot about photosynthesis: the way plants use sunlight to produce saccharides. Once we know more about the regulation of photosynthesis under stress conditions, we will be able to manipulate plants to produce more vitamin C or other useful substances, says ecophysiologist Ad Schapendonk of the AB-DLO institute in Wageningen. He is collaborating with the ATO-DLO institute and the department of Plant Physiology of the WAU in the Plant Diagnosis Centre, where they are attempting to develop mobile analysis equipment to check the quality of agricultural products
  • Applied Philosophy is the trademark of the philosophers of the WAU. Their point of departure is not the works of Plato and Kant, but practical problems in agriculture. We don't apply thoughts of other philosophers to agriculture, says Professor Michiel Korthals, The questions in agriculture are not related to academic philosophical literature. Korthals department doesn't care about its philosophical position, but is studying contact with half-wild animals in nature reserves and the claims made for health foods
  • Next week Queen Beatrix will visit Wageningen to open the new buildings of two DLO institutes for rural development (Staring Centre) and nature conservation (IBN). The latter institute has been specially designed as an environmental-friendly building

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