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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Bertrand Vissac created the Agricultural Systems Department
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.