Founded in 1977, PCG has been one of Flanders's fastest growing centres for applied research and extension services in vegetable production. PCG, an institution financed by the Flemish government and private institutions, carries out applied research on vegetables (field trials as well as sensory analysis) and provides growers with advice and a wide range of services of their interest, in accordance with economic and social developments. PCG's mission is to collect and disperse science-based information, and to perform consulting all with the objective to support the Flemish agro-industry. Through its Board of Directors and various Technical Committees, PCG is linked directly to the vegetable growers.
The strong connection with the growers and the insight into the challenges they face is one of the most important assets of the institute. PCG has a highly motivated and dedicated staff of researchers and technicians, with the knowledge and practical experience to develop feasible solutions to problems of its clients. PCG pursues a well-structured policy of knowledge transfer by valorising the new findings and technologies proceeding from strategic applied research. Through publications (both scientific and popular), meetings and field trips, vegetable growers are informed on a regular basis about the latest findings and tendencies of their professional interest.
In 2014, the organization was structured in 4 units: field crops, protected crops (including organic culture), sensory and consumer science, and innovation.
The research focusses on several topics such as: variety trials, fertilisation, crop protection and technical features. Because of the major importance of crop protection, the research centre received its GEP accreditation to carry out efficiency and phytotoxicity trials. Research is set up in open field and greenhouses. Over the years the main emphasis of research changed from productivity and external quality to internal quality and environmental and consumer safety. The main vegetables in open field culture are leek, brassicas and leafy vegetables. Leafy vegetables are also a major crop in traditional greenhouse production while research in organic greenhouse crops is mainly conducted on tomato, sweet pepper and cucumber. Within the unit innovation, new cropping systems and innovative crops are tested and assessed on their practical value before they find an entrance in Flemish agriculture and horticulture. Since 20 years a lot of attention is going out to the sensory analysis of fruit and vegetables. The institute has a fully equipped laboratory meeting ISO regulations designed for sensory analysis. PCG also acts as a centre of expertise on water related topics, both irrigation and waste water management. Irrigation monitoring, wastewater treatment, water reuse and prevention of nutrient losses through drainage are the main subjects here. It is obvious that PCG aims to play an important role as an intermediary between basic scientific research and vegetable growers, striving for an optimal win-win relationship.