Towards circular food production


Most of our present production systems and food systems can be characterised as linear: they optimize production of single commodities. In doing so, important interactions within production systems and food systems are ignored and resource depletion and environmental impact are relatively high. For instance, in the optimization of cereal crops, the amount and quality of straw is often neglected, while in the optimization of livestock production food-feed competition and manure are generally not considered. In circular food production and food systems (including consumption) such interactions are critical. Circularity in plant and animal production assumes that plant biomass is the basis of our food system, and should be used primarily to produce human food; that by-products from food production, processing and consumption are reused or recycled into the food system; and that we make the most efficient use of animals by using them to unlock biomass inedible for humans into valuable food, manure and ecosystem services. There are still many important research questions within each of these three principles that can and must be investigated to advance circularity in food production. In this thesis subject you can work on one of these principles, possibly in collaboration with other chair groups. Examples of specific subjects include: what are useful applications of crop residues of each of our important food crops and would that affect optimal crop rotations; in which ways can we optimally re-use and re-cycle carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in by-products (crop residues, waste, manure, etc.), to maximize food production and minimize resource use and environmental impact?


Possibly with Animal Production Systems (WU) or with other chairgroups in Wageningen


A solid background in crop and farming systems and quantitative analysis of (large) datasets will be important for this study 






Martin van Ittersum                0317-482382                 

Tom Schut                              0317-482454                 

Bert Rijk                                 0317-480402