PhD position Integrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) as a solution towards circularity in agriculture

Published on
July 2, 2019
Location Wageningen
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We are looking for

With the chair group Animal Production Systems (APS) at Wageningen Campus we have a PhD position Integrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) as a solution towards circularity in agriculture.
This PhD project will be developed at the special chair of Grass based Dairy Systems at the Animal Production Systems group of Wageningen University.

A PhD student to analyze the potentials of integrated crop livestock systems (ICLS) (at farm or regional level) to increase the resilience and eco-efficiency of agricultural systems in different regions of the Netherlands. The project is developed within the context of the new paradigm ‘circularity in agricultural production‘, indicating that animal-source food (ASF) should be produced primarily from human inedible by-products from the food system (e.g. crop residues, co-products from food processing, and food waste) and grass biomass. This paradigm seeks for a higher degree of self-sufficiency of the agricultural systems. For dairy systems, this means a reduction of external inputs of protein feeds (and thus costs) by increasing the share of protein produced from own grassland. Circularity of agricultural systems is directly coupled to the strategy of ecological intensification (EI), which means at least maintaining, better increasing the productivity (of protein and energy), but significantly decreasing the environmental impacts simultaneously. In this project, the analyzed environmental impacts will be restricted to abiotic processes and evaluated by the greenhouse gas (GHG) and nitrogen (N) impacts of dairy products.
In ICLS, crop diversity is increased by combining arable cash crops with forage crops within the same production system or even crop rotation. Moreover, the functional diversity will also be enhanced in these systems, as annual cash crops will be combined with perennials, N-fixing plants and C4 plants. The use of these different plant functional traits will increase the ability to buffer and recover from certain stressors, thus will enhance the systems’ resilience. The overall hypothesis, which will be tested within the PhD project, is that ICLS can increase the eco-efficiency of agricultural systems in the Netherlands as the combination of different plant functional traits increases its resource use efficiency (RUE).
The successful candidate will analyze the regional potentials of ICLS depending on the conditions of climate, hydrology, soil and agricultural structures, typical for the Netherlands. For this purpose, the candidate, together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Germany, will 1) define model regions in the Netherlands and estimate the theoretically available agricultural land (arable land and grassland) for ICLS within certain limits of site properties, 2) link these figures with the current farm structure and environmental impacts of production to estimate the potential of ICLS, 3) use available data from the model regions to set up and parameterize certain agroecosystem models, and 4) use these model systems to simulate different scenarios for ICLS and to identify optimized region-specific levels of intensity and system integration under the EI paradigm. 

We ask

For this interdisciplinary project, we are looking for an enthusiastic result-driven person with an appropriate degree in plant or environmental sciences, and an interest to work with other agricultural disciplines. You speak and write fluent English, and you communicate efficiently and excel in problem solving. You have experience in modelling, designing and executing experiments and are familiar with processing data. In addition, you are a team-player and are highly effective in time and project planning.

We offer

  • A challenging job for a period of 4 years (18 months with an extension of 30 months after successful evaluation) at an international leading organization. The WUR has good and flexible employment conditions.
  • A job in an international setting with varied work and plenty of opportunity for personal development in a pleasant and open working environment. The appointment is for 38 hours per week.
  • In according to the Collective Labour Agreement (VSNU), the salary will increase from            € 2.325,00 gross per month in the first year up to € 2.972,00 in the fourth year (38 hours).
  • We offer 232 hours of leave for a full-time position of 38-hours per week, with the option of accruing another extra hours (compensation leave) for a 40-hour working week.
  • 8% holiday allowance and a fixed 8,3% end-of-year bonus.
  • We offer good training and education opportunities.
  • Sports facilities at reduced prices are at your availability.

More information

Additional information about this vacancy can be obtained from Prof. Dr. Imke de Boer at (phone: +31 (0) 317-484589) or from Prof. Dr. Freidhelm Taube at (phone: +49 (0) 431-880 2134).

We would like to receive your short motivation letter and CV before 12/08/2019. Please do not email directly to the persons mentioned above, you can only apply via the website of Wageningen University & Research

We are

The Animal Production Systems group uses systems approach to understand complex livestock systems in order to explore and design a sustainable future. We help to solve complex sustainability problems – global food security, climate change, water scarcity, depletion of fossil fuels and phosphorus, and achieving respectful animal production – we are facing today. See also our website:

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