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, 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 first step. With the first step, the aim is to use crop models to a) assess potential yields and quality across the Netherlands, b) assess water-limited potential yields across the Netherlands and assess influence of climate variability and climate change, c) assess water- and nutrient limited yields across fields, allowing to assess impacts of current and possible future nutrient legislation and management, d) assess the influence of soil-borne pests and diseases on yields, focussing on rotation effects. 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 development. Modelling skills and experience with field experiments are essential.
We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:
• An MSc in the area of plant sciences, agronomy, or ecology
• Well-developed modelling skills
• Interest in crop production and performing field experiments
• Excellent oral and written communication in English, and good communication skills
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.
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: http://www.wageningenur.nl/career
The successful applicant will be based at the Plant Production Systems Group (PPS) and co-supervised by scientists from Earth Observation and Environmental Informatics and Agrosystems Research (all WU). In addition the candidate will work closely with another PhD student (on step 2: field and farm monitoring and analysis), 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.