PhD Field and farm monitoring for sustainable potato production

Gepubliceerd op
17 juli 2018
Locatie Wageningen
Expertisegebied Agriculture
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We are looking for

‘Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production’ (Potato Gap NL) is a project funded by NWO and Holland Innovative Potato, an initiative of 10 companies active in the potato value chain and prominent global players in the fields of potato breeding and processing. Increases in potato yields 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 integrated in 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. Three main steps will be followed: 1) improvement of potato growth models to assess yield and quality, 2) field and farm monitoring and analysis of actual yields, quality, resource use efficiency and environmental impacts (‘crop performance’), 3) development of a DSS. Experiments will be conducted under step 1 for calibration and validation of the model, and under step 2 for analysis of specific agronomic variables influencing yield. We seek a highly motivated PhD candidate who can work on the second step. In the second step, the aim is to perform statistical analyses in order to analyse the influence of a range of agronomic and soil variables and their interactions on crop performance. You will a) analyse and explain variability in crop performance across fields on farms in the Netherlands using frontier analysis, b) analyse and explain variability in crop performance across fields within farms, using innovative data science approaches, and c) analyse the influence on crop performance of single agronomic variables (e.g. seed quality and soil quality) and their interactions in an experimental setting. Experience with performing surveys, data analysis, statistical techniques and field experiments are essential.

We ask

We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:
• An MSc in the area of plant sciences, agronomy, or ecology
• Well-developed statistical skills
• Interest in crop production and performing field experiments
• Experience in interactions with farmers and private sector
• Excellent oral and written communication in English, and good communication skills

We offer

In principle this is a 48 month PhD position. We offer you a temporary contract for 12 months which will be extended with three years if you perform well. Gross salary per month: €2.222 based on full time employment. In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary.

More information

Additional information about this project can be obtained from Dr Pytrik Reidsma (Pytrik.Reidsma@wur.nll). You can apply up and until August 31 2018 For this position you can only apply online:

We are

The successful applicant will be based at the Plant Production Systems Group (PPS) and co-supervised by scientists from Wageningen Research (both WU). In addition the candidate will work closely with another PhD student (on step 1: potato growth modelling), and a post-doc (on step 3: development of a DSS), and a research assistant (who will be responsible for the organization of the experiments). The mission of PPS is to integrate biological knowledge to analyse and design sustainable production systems for crops (including integration with livestock), focused on resource use efficiency and equitable management of natural resources. WU is internationally renowned for its research and education in the fields of life sciences, plant improvement and sustainability. Through these activities it aims to make essential contributions to the quality of life.