Research institutes show how technology can make pear cultivation more sustainable

The Flemish pear sector is working on ways to make pear cultivation more environmentally friendly and climate-resistant. At the BelOrta fruit auction on Wednesday, five knowledge centres presented innovative techniques that will be used in the pear sector in the future.

Research organisation VITO showed how it combines drone images and satellite data with weather data and machine data via a data-sharing platform to implement sustainable precision fruit farming and monitor water resources.

Meanwhile, UC Leuven-Limburg presented an autonomous transport platform that can navigate safely through an orchard. The university has concrete plans to develop the transport platform into a multi-purpose vehicle.

CO2 emissions

PCFruit presented the first results of the Genk research facility Ecotron, which simulates the climate of 2050 in glass domes. Initial results show that pear orchards in Flanders will consume around 5,000 tonnes of additional CO2 per year by 2050. However, studies by KU Leuven and Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) show that a pear grower could store more carbon in the soil and trees of their orchard than the emissions released on their farm.

Finally, ILVO demonstrated an experimental high-tech press container and a super-flexible juice and smoothie production line for surplus fruit and vegetables. A new hard fruit sorting centre was presented, using advanced technologies such as optical and infrared cameras for accurate quality assessment.

Pears are one of the most cultivated fruits in Flanders. Belgium produced more than 345,000 tonnes of pears in the 2022/2023 season, the vast majority in Flanders.



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