History of the Walloon Agricultural Research Centre



Beginning of the Francini Brothers' activities at Versailles

From 1623 to 1784, members of the Italian Francini family of fountain builders organised and installed ponds and water-based activities in large parks and royal palaces, such as Vincennes, Fontainebleau and Versailles.
It was at Versailles in particular that the brothers Pierre and François Francini filled people with awe thanks to the splendour and complexity of the fountains they created.

The CRA-W Francini building is located at N°146, chaussée de Namur (Gembloux)..

The gardener Jean-Baptiste de la Quintinie started work on creating a new kitchen garden for King Louis XIV.

His agricultural skills took him from Vaux-le-Vicomte to Versailles, to work with some of the greatest gardeners of the time during the reign of the Sun King. The many techniques he developed meant he was a genuine pioneer in the production of early fruit and vegetables. The vegetable garden created in 1678 for Louis XIV still exists and gained historical monument status in 1921.

The CRA-W's La Quintinie building is located at N°234, chaussée de Charleroi (Gembloux).

Foundation of the "Laboratoires de l’Etat"

This was the CRA-W's first name. At the time, these laboratories consisted of 21 agricultural stations scattered throughout Belgium.

Arthur Petermann was the first director of the Gembloux Agricultural Station

His work with fertilisers, particularly phosphate fertilisers, played a key role, particularly in terms of the legislation relating to their commercial use.

The CRA-W's Petermann building is located at N°4, rue de Bordia (Gembloux).

Birth of the entomological scientist Alfred Balachowsky

Alfred Serge Balachowksy devoted his life as a researcher to extending the boundaries of biological control methods applicable to crop pests and diseases. He pioneered the use of living organisms in tackling these pests and diseases. He was among the first to expose the hazards of using synthetic pesticides indiscriminately.

The CRA-W's Balachowksy building is located at N°2, rue de Liroux (Gembloux)..

Maurice Henseval was the first director of the Dairy Station, from 1901 to 1904

Maurice Henseval made a name for himself thanks to his microbiological research in the dairy environment.

The CRA-W's Henseval building is located at N°24, chaussée de Namur (Gembloux).

Birth of the biologist and zoologist Rachel Carson, famous for her research and writings about ocean life and environmental protection

The acclaimed American zoologist, Rachel Louise Carson, began her career as a biologist before concentrating exclusively on her writing. Her various works - relating to the life under
the ocean and environmental protection - became best-sellers, while her book entitled "Silent Spring" led to a shift in the national pesticides policy. This work is said to have helped launch the international environmental movement.

The CRA-W Carson Building is located at N°11, rue du Bordia (Gembloux).

Emile Marchal created the State Plant Pathology Station

The distinguished scientist, Emile Marchal, was head of the State Plant Pathology Station.
for 25 years. He has made a name for himself thanks to his involvement in studying botany in
in general, and plant diseases in particular.

The CRA-W's Marchal building is located at N°4, rue de Liroux (Gembloux).

Creation of the Potato Growing Improvement Research Station, Haute Belgique

It is in the south of the country, in the Ardennes highlands, that it was decided to set up a station focused on potato growing. As a result of the region's high altitude, the vegetable is less prone to diseases. Renamed "Haute Belgique" some 40 years later, the station's remit was subsequently extended to cover the various growing methods applied in the Ardennes.

The CRA-W's Haute Belgique building is located at N°100, rue du Serpont (Libramont).

Creation of the Crop Science Station, headed by Léon Lacroix

The Crop Science Station was the 12th Gembloux research station to be opened. It was headed by the scientist Léon Lacroix from 1951 to 1973.

The CRA-W's Lacroix building is located at N°9, rue de Liroux (Gembloux).


The stations were combined into two Agricultural Research Centres: 12 in Gembloux and 9 in Ghent.


Acknowledged as a scientific institution, the Centre was divided into various departments and sections.


An agricultural engineer, Bertrand Vissac focused on promoting a systemic approach to field research, linking the dynamics of living organisms to social and regional dynamics. He was head of the Agricultural Systems Department from 1983 to 1993.

The CRA-W's Vissac building is located at N°8, rue de Liroux (Gembloux).


Structural reorganisation of the Centre: 7 research departments and 2 sections.


Regionalisation: the agricultural responsibilities were transferred to the Regional authorities.


The Centre became a Walloon Region public interest body.


The CRA was officially renamed CRA-W: Centre wallon de Recherches agronomiques (Walloon Agricultural Research Centre).


Structural reorganisation of the Centre: 4 research departments each consisting of 4 research units.


Structural reorganisation of the Centre: 4 research departments each consisting of 3 research units.