PhD candidate 'Developing a high-resolution Soil Information System for the Netherlands'

Published on
February 26, 2019
Location Wageningen
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We are looking for

Smart and sustainable land and water management is crucial to secure the well-being of future generations, especially in highly populated areas like the Netherlands, where many different functions are combined in a small area. Accurate and up-to-date soil data at high resolution are required to support decision makers to make the right choices. In the Netherlands, soil maps are among the most-detailed in the world, but since their use is no longer limited to basic agricultural uses, it no longer satisfies all user needs.  Therefore, there is a need to develop and apply methods to generate high-resolution 3D (space and depth) soil information and provide a strategy for continuous and affordable updating of soil information. More specifically, this project aims to 1) develop, validate and apply 3D digital soil mapping models of soil properties for the Netherlands; 2) develop and evaluate methods for optimal use of satellite and sensor data for measuring and mapping soil properties; and 3) develop and apply decision criteria for identifying and updating outdated soil data and quantify the accuracy of the 3D digital soil maps produced in this project. In addition, stakeholder engagement will be part of the research. Gathering and sharing information and addressing needs and concerns of stakeholders will guide the research activities carried out in this project in order to meet the user needs.

We are looking for a PhD candidate that will scientifically contribute to the development of a high-resolution Soil Information System for the Netherlands. The project is a collaboration with the Dutch Key Registry for Soil and Geology (Basis Registratie Ondergrond - BRO), which is managed by Wageningen Environmental Research (WENR).  The selected candidate will be positioned at the Soil Geography and Landscape group of Wageningen University and the research will carried out in close collaboration with WENR.

We ask

  • You hold a MSc degree in soil science, agronomy, environmental science, computer science, statistics or related subject and have a clear interest for economic and societal issues in environmental science;
  • You have affinity with applying statistical methods in the earth and environmental sciences, including machine learning, digital soil mapping and proximal soil sensing;
  • You have experience with (open source) geo-information software and programming languages, such as QGIS and the R language for statistical computing;
  • You have strong analytical capabilities and a sense for scientific innovation;
  • You are a strong communicator in English and able to understand at least the basics of the Dutch language;
  • You have affinity with putting science into practice and the abilities to deal with a wide range of user groups
  • You are a pleasant and intrinsically motivated colleague who takes initiatives.

We offer

A full-time appointment (1.0 fte, 38 hours/week) for a period of 18 months with extension of 30 months after a positive evaluation (total duration of PhD project 48 months); Part-time assignment of 4 days per week for a total period of 5 instead of 4 years is negotiable; further development of your technical or personal skills, solid education towards an independent scientific researcher; Salary ranges from € 2.325,-- in the first year to € 2.972,-- (gross) in the fourth year based on full-time employment. In addition, we offer a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.
You will be appointed at the Soil Geography and Landscape Group of Wageningen University.

More information

Additional information: Dr. Titia Mulder,, +31 (0)317 485611.
Additional information on the Soil Geography and Landscape group activities is available through:
How to apply:
Interested? Do not email directly to the people mentioned above. Please use the website to apply and upload your CV and a motivation letter before 1 April, 2019.

We are

Wageningen University & Research

Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain of good and safe food & food production, food security and a healthy living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

The Soil Geography and Landscape group (SGL) is part of the Wageningen University Soil Science cluster. The mission of SGL is to improve and share understanding of soil patterns and landscape dynamics. We take an integrative approach that combines biophysical and human elements to gain insight in past, present and future system dynamics, and to support sustainable land management.

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