Main research question/goal
The aim of this project was to apply direct innovations in ornamental companies participating in the project as well as in the broader ornamentals industry. Innovations were based on new knowledge about plant physiology. This implicates technological innovations (e.g. developments in LEDs or sensors), new applications through direct interactions between plant hormones, and translating the knowledge of biological processes gained in model crops. The goal of this project was to manipulate specific growth stages to improve plant quality, limit losses, improve growth methods and schemes, or use production factors more efficiently. We always focussed on processes that are important in a relatively short period of the production cycle but are extremely important for the end product, namely a high-quality, attractive plant for the consumer. In this project, we cooperated intensively with the following ornamental industry sectors: azalea, tree nurseries, pot plants, cut flowers, bedding plants, chrysanthemums and young plants.
The focus of this project was the use of light (LEDs) and plant hormones (e.g. ABA and strigolactons) in horticulture. Four processes were studied: (1) characterization of the storage and transport conditions of ornamentals (cuttings and mature plants) and their effect on plant quality; (2) insight into the manipulation of hormone levels and their influence on root formation in young plants (cuttings, in vitro plants) and optimizing the acclimatization of in vitro plants through use of chemical regulators; (3) testing the effect of chemical and physical stimulators of branching on a broad platform to ameliorate the current (and approved) assortment of plant growth regulators for ornamentals in a sustainable way; (4) studying leaf/flower pigmentation under different light regimes for the potential manipulation of flower colour intensity. We took a participatory approach. The information gathered within the project was shared with the growers mainly through demonstration projects. The goal was to stimulate them to perform specific innovations in their company. We also ran a number of pilot projects in companies and created a platform to guide individual companies when implementing innovations.Relevance/Valorisation
The VLAIO project 'Knowledge-driven management of plant-physiological processes in floriculture to promote plant quality' was completed at the end of 2018 and was (very) favorably evaluated. For example, according to the project partners ILVO, PCS and UGent (www.pcsierteelt.be/Projecten), 67% of the companies that already used light invested in lighting, mainly in LEDs, after the project. Growth regulators that received certification in the last 6 years are now frequently used. The Knowledge Platform for Plant Physiology, developed within this project consortium, is now well known within the sector (95%). Temperature is now being monitored much more by growers during transport compared to 6 years ago. The general knowledge about plant physiology has increased considerably within the companies. The knowledge about antitranspirants had a more limited impact (32%), as did the knowledge about the influence of LEDs on flower or leaf color (35%), but these applications are only relevant for a number of subsectors.
IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen
PCS - Proefcentrum voor de Sierteelt
Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen