Estimating and explaining yield gaps at field level using frontier analysis - A case study on a Dutch farm


Van Den Borne Aardappelen is a 450 ha potato farm located in Reusel, North Brabant (The Netherlands). Precision farming techniques and decision support systems are widely used in this farm, resulting in nearly ‘optimal’ management, high resource use efficiency and high yields. In addition, an extensive dataset referring to the soil properties and management strategy (quantity, timing and mode of application of inputs) applied in each specific field is being recorded in detail. 

Quantification of yield gaps is of particular interest as they provide an indication of the possibility for increasing agricultural production without additional increases of external inputs. Yield gaps can be defined as the difference between a benchmark yield (e.g. potential or water-limited yield) and an actual yield obtained by farmers. Explanation of yield gaps is of particular importance as it reveals bottlenecks of the production process and hence provides key-recommendations for future improvement. 

Crop growth simulation models are traditionally used to estimate potential and water-limited yields based on information of the biophysical environment (i.e. weather and soil properties). Methods of frontier analysis (e.g. data envelopment and stochastic frontier analysis) may as well be used for a similar purpose if inputs included in the production frontier are defined appropriately. An important advantage of the latter method is that it can be also used to explain yield gaps based on farm management.

The objective of this MSc study is to estimate and explain yield gaps using detailed biophysical and management data of the Van Den Borne Aardappelen potato fields. The study will provide insights in within farm variability. The project provides a great opportunity for linking agronomic theory to practical farm experience and for deepening the knowledge on production ecological concepts and methods of productivity and efficiency analysis.


Field trips to Van Den Borne Aardappelen may be organized for data collection and discussions with the farmer (more information about Van Den Borne Aardappelen can be found in




Any time


Pytrik Reidsma                                   0317 – 48 55 78