I'm a Dutch PhD and postdoc researcher on tropical perennial cropping systems. Currently I am working on the CocoaSoils project, and I am finalising my PhD thesis on the improvement of yields in smallholder oil palm plantations in Indonesia.
The cocoa research focuses on setting up large-scale fertiliser trials to unravel key questions about cocoa nutrition, ISFM, and possibilities for improving yields.
For the thesis I work with a number of oil palm farmers in Sumatra and Kalimantan to measure the impact of improved fertilisation on yield, and to determine the time-lag between investment (in more/better fertilisers) and returns (increased yield). We know that oil palm needs at least two years to really respond to fertilisers, and we are trying to quantify the effects of this time lag on profitability and willingness to intensify.
My research is multi-disciplinary, focusing on both agronomic and socio-economic aspects of yield improvement in cocoa and oil palm. Together with NGOs and industry partners, we try to translate scientific knowledge into training programmes for smallholder farmers, to increase farmers' capacities and to recommend better management practices which are sustainable and feasible.