Thesis subject

Potato experiments in the Netherlands: potential yield, tuber quality and drip irrigation 


The Netherlands is one of the largest potato producers in the world. Therefore, the potato is an important crop to the Netherlands. The Dutch potato industry has started the Holland Innovative Potato programme, to understand the scope for increasing yield and understand yield variability. As part of the project ‘Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production’, experiments are set up to estimate potential, water- and nutrient-limited potato yield in the Netherlands. Besides yield, tuber quality is also important for potato production, and investigated in the experiment.

      One year of field trials has already been conducted in 2019 in Lelystad (clay) and Vredepeel (sandy), and these will be repeated in 2020. In order to investigate potential, water- and nutrient limited yield, five cultivars, two irrigation treatments and three nitrogen levels are used. The fields are irrigated using drip irrigation and closely monitored with soil water potential sensors. The potato crop is studied on plant characteristics of growth, yield, tuber quality, photosynthesis rate and nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium uptake in leaves and tubers. Field measurements also include soil temperature, light interception and reflection, chlorophyll content, groundwater level and soil water potential. 

      The measurements are done during the potato growing season, from May until September. In consultation, the student can choose to join in measuring the full or part of the growing season. The large variety in measurements allow for many research questions, for example focussing on photosynthesis, water management or tuber quality. Differences can be observed between the cultivars, irrigation, nitrogen application and soil type.

Type of work

Fieldwork, laboratory work at Unifarm, experimental data analysis, reporting


A strong background in agronomy, with interest in quantitative approaches and affinity to experimental fieldwork and preferably some experience in R statistics


Fieldwork at PPO Lelystad and PPO Vredepeel, laboratory work and writing in Wageningen (Unifarm and WUR)


Crop growing season is May – September. The student can therefore join between April and December 2020.


Tamara ten Den                                                            

Inge van de Wiel                                 0317 – 48 55 87

Pytrik Reidsma                                   0317 – 48 55 78