Vacancy

Two PhD positions in the Regenerative Farming project

Published on
June 12, 2018
Location Wageningen/Utrecht
Scientific field Agriculture
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We are looking for

We offer two PhD positions in a project of TIFN (topinstituut Food and Nutrition) called ‘regenerative farming’.

TiFN at a glance
TiFN is a unique platform, founded in 1997, where industry and academia converge and collaborate to create breakthrough innovations in food and nutrition. TiFN enables the Agriculture & food sector to tackle major societal issues by supporting the development of sustainable and innovative products and technologies that respond to consumer demands for sustainable, safe, tasty and healthy foods. The research is pre-competitive and has a strong international reputation in multiple scientific disciplines.

Description Regenerative Farming Project
A science-based outline of a potential regenerative-farming system in the Netherlands, combined with actionable transition scenarios, are the key deliverables of the newest project in the TiFN portfolio, Regenerative Farming. The four-year project, involving a broad range of partners from the private sector and knowledge institutes, will receive €2.5m funding from Topsector Agri&Food and the private sector.

From complying with the Paris Climate Agreement’s net zero (human induced) greenhouse gas emissions commitment, to the circular and regenerative use of nutrients and soil, as described in the (Netherlands) National Raw Materials Agreement, the Dutch agricultural sector faces significant challenges on the road to meeting its long-term goals for sustainable food production. Over time the sector needs to shift towards a production system with a neutral or positive impact on climate, soils, water and biodiversity. Current studies focus on specific areas or disciplines and aim to reduce negative impacts, but we are lacking research that takes an integrated systems perspective, with the aim of achieving positive impacts.

Seeing this need for a systems approach, TiFN defined Regenerative Farming as a key direction in its research strategy for the coming years. We have brought together eight research and industry partners who are committed to investing in this challenging project. Partners include FrieslandCampina, Royal Cosun, BO Akkerbouw, Commonland®, Wageningen University & Research, the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development (Utrecht University), the University of Amsterdam and Het Groene Brein.

The project has five work packages that include: creating an integrated, contextual outline for a revised Dutch agricultural production system (by 2050); co-creating – together with arable farmers and dairy farmers – best practices in regenerative production; and shaping robust, quantified scenarios for transitioning to a regenerative production system at national scale. Based on a thorough analysis of the technological, social, economic and policy barriers between the existing system and a regenerative system, we will develop actionable transition scenarios that can bridge the think-do gap.

General information and Application process
The ‘regenerative farming’ project will be led by an experienced project leader. The project work will be carried out by the project partners; besides involvement of current staff we are looking for candidates for two PhD positions, who will work closely together with each other and the supervisory team. The project is planned to kick-off in September 2018, and will run for four years until 2022.

We ask

Job requirements PhD position ‘socio-economic aspects: design and transition’
As a PhD candidate, you will work on the following research topics (details to be determined during the first half year of the project):

  • Identification and operationalization of future sustainability goals for Dutch agriculture.
  • Design of regenerative and circular farming systems and practices at national level and a selection of regions.
  • Development of transition scenarios, including an analysis of barriers and opportunities for transition, and design of transition pathways.
The ideal candidate has:
  • A university degree (MSc).
  • A solid and proven background in at least one of the following or related scientific disciplines: environmental, innovation or social sciences, agronomy, or biosystems engineering; candidates are invited to demonstrate the relevance of their education to the position applied for.
  • Knowledge and experience in design methods and/or transition science.
  • A proven scientific ambition, proven performance in scientific writing, and strong ambition to publish future work; candidates are invited to provide 1 or 2 examples of their written work.
Job requirements PhD position ‘environmental aspects: bio-physical modelling’
As a PhD candidate, you will work on the following research topics (details to be determined during the first half year of the project):
  • Modelling of bio-physical processes and flows in the Dutch agricultural systems.
  • Modelling of ecological impacts like global warming, eutrophication, soil, water and air quality, and biodiversity.
  • Assessment of nutrient (N and P) and carbon cycles, emission & losses and their impacts, and imports and export flows for the current situation (national and a selection of regions) and for 3-5 future scenarios.
The ideal candidate has: 
  • A university degree (MSc).
  • A solid and proven background in at least one of the following or related scientific disciplines: animal, plant or environmental sciences, biosystems engineering, or agronomy; candidates are invited to demonstrate the relevance of their education to the position applied for.
  • Knowledge and experience in modelling of bio-physical / agro-ecological systems.
  • A proven scientific ambition, proven performance in scientific writing, and strong ambition to publish future work; candidates are invited to provide 1 or 2 examples of their written work.
Additional requirements for both PhD positions within the Regenerative Farming project
  • Affinity with agricultural or biological systems and genuine interest in the sustainability challenges of this domain.
  • Affinity with the field of system innovation and transition studies.
  • Able to communicate effectively with other disciplines and various types of stakeholders (farmers, businesses, governments, fundamental research and applied research).
  • Plan and manage your own PhD project within the Regenerative Farming project (time, money, cooperation, publications).
  • Function as a team member, participate in project meetings and discussions.
  • Report progress to the Project Leader and Project Council.
  • Effective transfer of knowledge/project results to the private parties.
  • Able to communicate orally (basic level) in Dutch.
  • Excellent written and oral English communication.

We offer

We offer a full-time position (38 hours), initially for 1 year after which a go/no-go decision will be taken. You will be appointed under the CAO of the Dutch Universities. In case of a go, the contract will be extended up to 48 months. Your research will be carried out within the graduate school of Wageningen UR and/or Utrecht University. Gross salary per month € 2.222,-- in the first year for a fulltime appointment. In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8,3% of your annual salary.

More information

You can apply up and until August 19, 2018.
For this position you can only apply online: http://www.wageningenur.nl/career


We will invite candidates for a job interview with two science partners and the Theme Director Sustainable Food Systems (Wouter-Jan Schouten). These interviews will be organized before September 1, 2018. Further project information can be obtained from Wouter-Jan Schouten (Theme Director Sustainable Food Systems; schouten@tifn.nl; +31 6 22 41 07 61) or Prof.dr.ir. P.W.G. Groot Koerkamp (peter.grootkoerkamp@wur.nl; +31 (0)317-48 08 31).

Further specific information for the PhD position ‘environmental aspects: bio-physical modelling’ can be obtained from Prof.dr.ir. R.P.O. Schulte (professor Farming Systems Ecology; rogier.schulte@wur.nl; +31 (0)317- 48 11 91) or Prof.dr.ir. I.M.J. de Boer (professor Animal Production Systems; imke.deboer@wur.nl; +31 (0)317-48 39 59).
Further specific information for the PhD position ‘socio-economic aspects: design and transition’ can be obtained from Dr. Jerry van Dijk (assistant professor Restoration Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation; j.vandijk2@uu.nl; +31 30 253 44 10) or Prof.dr.ir. P.W.G. Groot Koerkamp (professor Biosystems Engineering; peter.grootkoerkamp@wur.nl; +31 (0)317-48 08 31).

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.