Wetenschap - 5 april 2001

English Summary

Farmers in southern Italy can irrigate more efficiently by making use of satellite photos and hydrological computer models such as the one developed by PhD graduate Guido D'Urso rather than using their intuition.

D'Urso developed the Simodis procedure (Simulation and Management of On-Demand Irrigation Systems), combining information from infra-red satellite images with soil and ground water data. He compared these with field measurements taken in his study area south of Naples and concluded that the amount of water used for irrigation could be reduced by 40 percent. The system works for areas larger than 2000 hectares, and d'Urso envisages that irrigation managers working for water companies will be the primary clients: interpreting satellite image information requires quite a high level of expertise.

Two Wageningen students are preparing for a five-week climbing expedition in the Himalayas.

They form part of a ten-member team which plans to climb three peaks over 6000 metres high. Arnaud Temme is team leader and no stranger to mountaineering. He has already climbed various peaks in the Andes and went on an expedition to the Himalayas in 1999. The fact that one of his best friends was killed during this expedition has not put him off, but he stresses the importance of good preparation. His girlfriend Susanne Laven is a relative newcomer to the sport, but is taking her training seriously, which includes safety training in the Alps. "Climbing looks like 'me against the mountain', but I am the only who can lose," comments Temme.

A microphone is destroyed during one in every three lectures in the new lecture theatre in the 'education building'. The building manager and the supplier are not pleased, especially as the newly equipped building is supposed to make a good impression on outsiders and potential new students. The microphones are not only necessary for the present Wageningen students, but also for video conferencing of Wageningen lectures for students in Leeuwarden. Rolf Marteijn, PhD research assistant in Bioprocess engineering and technical hobbyist considers the microphones of standard quality, but not necessarily 'student-proof': "If the lecture is boring then I'd start playing with the things as well." The supplier does not agree: "Rubbish, just playing with them doesn't cause them to break."

The outbreak of foot-and-mouth continues to disrupt activities at Wageningen UR: the students who graduated last week collected their diplomas from the university main building instead of in the Aula, to ensure that there were not too many visitors from infected areas in the form of family and friends.

The graduates were each given a bottle of wine and a rose as consolation, but most were not too disappointed. There is not yet a clear policy about how to deal with the practical exercises which students are having to forego as the result of not being able to work on farms or in nature reserves. One option being considered is to give students a waiver for the practical work they should have done during this period.

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