MSc Thesis/research practice opportunity: Soybean-based sustainable intensification of smallholder farming systems in southwest Tanzania

March 21, 2024


Legume-based intensification is often seen as a key agricultural development strategy for maize-dominated smallholder farming systems in Africa, as legume-integration can: (1) contribute to more diverse and nutritious diets; (2) constitute an important source of cash for smallholder farmers; (3) potentially improve field and farm-level productivity as they add nutrients to generally poorly fertilized soils, and may therefore also; (4) reduce the need for artificial fertilisers.

WUR-PPS works together with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in the Tanzania Sustainable Soybean Initiative (TSSI), which seeks to intensify smallholder soybean production and sustain cereal (maize) yields by reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers, while improving smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate change. One way of doing this is to provide field-level agronomic advice to soya growing farmers, using a digital advisory tool, called “Farmer-MBA” (MBA=management-based-advice). Farmer-MBA collects agronomic management data of one field (i.e. input use, field conditions and yields), and uses that data instantly to generate an agronomic advice for the farmer for the upcoming season and crop. The tool thus not only provides advice, but also collects agronomic management data at scale.

The aim of this student project is to explore the agronomic management data of the Farmer-MBA, focusing specifically on the effects of input use and crop rotation practices (maize-soya and soya-maize) on crop performance (yields) of resource-poor farmers in southwestern Tanzania. Next to rotational effects, you may also formulate additional research questions that might be addressed through fieldwork in the area. Your findings may directly contribute to the development of new, field-specific advice protocols for advice provision to smallholder farmers

Type of work

Desk study: analysis of crop management database, statistical analysis and visualization will be performed in R (OR Possibility for fieldwork)


Background in (tropical) farming systems studies, agronomy, or related fields. Experience in R and statistics is advised.


Plant Production Systems department (Radix Nova - Wageningen), if fieldwork: Songwe Region (Tanzania)


Flexible (6 months for an MSc Thesis, minimum 4 months for a research practice)