Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production in the Netherlands


Increases in potato yield in the Netherlands have been relatively small compared to other crops. The yield gap, i.e. the difference between potential and actual yield, is significant, and yields vary largely across fields (even within one farm) and years. In this project, we aim to analyse potential and actual potato yields and yield gaps at field and farm level across the Netherlands. Insight will be summarized and integrated into a decision-support system (DSS) that can benchmark potato yields and provide insight in the causes of yield gaps at individual field level while accounting for farm specific conditions. Trade-offs with tuber quality, resource use efficiency and environmental impacts will be included. For this project there are two different parts where a MSc student can be involved in.

The first part is improvement of potato growth models to assess yield and quality. In this step we aim to assess potential yield and quality across the Netherlands, assess water and water- and nutrient limited yields across fields, and assess the influence of soil-borne pests and diseases on yields. The improvement of crop models will indicate the scope for increase of actual yields, and the models and the related experiments will increase knowledge on processes underlying crop growth, including root growth, photosynthetic activity, crop senescence and tuber initiation and tuber development.

The second part of the project is based on field and farm monitoring and analysis of actual yields, quality, resource use efficiency and environmental impacts (‘crop performance’). With this part we aim to complement crop growth modelling with statistical analysis in order to analyse the influence of a range of agronomic and soil variables and their interactions on crop performance. An analysis will be done on explaining variability in crop performance across fields on farms and across fields within farms in the Netherlands. Also the influence of single agronomic variables on crop performance and their interactions in an experimental setting will be analysed.

Several experiments will be performed to analyse potato growth, in Lelystad, Vredepeel and other locations. Data will also be collected through farm surveys. Students are invited to be involved in experimental work, data collection, and the analysis and modelling of these data.

Type of work

(A combination of) on-farm experiments, analysis of farmers’ data and modelling


A strong background in agronomy, with interest in quantitative approaches.


Wageningen, the Netherlands


Any time


Silva, J. V., Reidsma, P., & van Ittersum, M. K. (2017). Yield gaps in Dutch arable farming systems: Analysis at crop and crop rotation level. Agricultural Systems, 158, 78-92.


Tamara ten Den                                                                      tamara.tenden@wur.nl

Paul Ravensbergen                                                                 paul.ravensbergen@wur.nl

Pytrik Reidsma                                   0317 – 48 55 78          pytrik.reidsma@wur.nl