On the 27th of April 2021, a visit to ILVO Plant Sciences Unit was planned by the students from the University of Ghent, Belgium, following the course ‘soil ecology’. Unfortunately, due to the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the excursion was replaced by an online meeting via Teams.
Eighteen students participated at the event, where they learned about the organisation of the ILVO Plant Diagnostic Centre (https://www.ilvodiagnosecentrumvoorplanten.be/nl/) and about the research projects, like SoildiverAgro, investigating soil fauna (https://ilvo.vlaanderen.be/nl/onderzoeksprojecten). Especially soil processing techniques and a molecular method for identification of organisms communities called DNA-metabarcoding were presented; micro-organisms, nematodes and other soil-dwelling organisms were discussed concerning their usefulness as bioindicators for soil health assessments in general or ecosystem functions in particular. The students were informed about the importance of soil management practices for a sustainable environment and plant growth in agriculture.