PhD position on modelling and control

Gepubliceerd op
25 mei 2018
Locatie Wageningen
Expertisegebied Agriculture
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We are looking for

The Dutch horticultural sector aims at becoming climate neutral before 2050. To accomplish this, a substantial energy saving is needed. For a successful transition to clean energy this should be accompanied with reducing the peaks in energy demand (especially during cold days). This project aims to develop automated decision support for climate management in greenhouses, by employing available streams of momentary and historical data (on crop, weather, energy prices, inside climate, energy buffering), combined with predictive models and decision algorithms.

In particular, this project aims to reduce a substantial amount of energy by employing the robustness of crops towards temporary indoor climate fluctuations. Currently, decision support is given on climate and energy management separately. Since climate and energy are interconnected, energy and climate advice should be integrated. Moreover, prognoses on weather and energy availability are uncertain. Managing under uncertainty requires a different approach than what is currently used.

Your challenge is to design a control algorithm that forms the core of a decision support system. The resulting decision support integrates three aspects: crop control, climate control, and energy provision and purchase. One part of your research is to develop a control algorithm that performs robustly under uncertainty, and one part of your research will be to further develop existing models for crop development, greenhouse climate dynamics, and energy provision, and integrate them.

This project hosts two PhD candidates. You will collaborate with a candidate who works on a crop physiological model that describes growth dynamics of a tomato crop, and its robustness towards climate fluctuations.

The project is funded by NWO-STW and conducted in cooperation with the funding agency Commit2Data and the consortium companies and institutes LTO Glaskracht, AgroEnergy, Delphy,, B-Mex, and Wageningen Plant Research. You will collaborate with the consortium partners for mutual advice, provision of data, and for future application of your algorithms within horticultural practice. Intensive coaching and supervision will be provided by experts in mathematics, control theory, crop physiology, and greenhouse technology. As a starting point of your research, basic models on crop development, climate dynamics, and energy flow, as well as control algorithms, are readily available.

We ask

  • A university degree or an equivalent degree in (applied) mathematics, physics, or control engineering (or an equivalent technological discipline).
  • A basic knowledge of statistics.
  • A keen interest in greenhouse technology and/or crop physiology.
  • Excellent communication skills as well as excellent command of English, both written and spoken.
  • Willingness to operate within a team of researchers and companies with various backgrounds.

We offer

We offer a full-time position (38 hours), initially for 1 year after which a go/no go decision will be taken on extension with another three years. Gross salary per month € 2.222,= in the first year rising to € 2.840,= per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment.

More information

For more information you can contact Simon van Mourik (

You can apply up and until June 15, 2018.
For this position you can only apply on line:

Don't email directly to the people mentioned above but use the website to apply.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 5,000 employees, and 10,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

The Farm Technology Group is part of Wageningen University and embedded in the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen UR. Our group hosts an ambitious staff from various scientific disciplines, with the goal of hightech and sustainable primary food production. This mission is achieved by combining knowledge, methodologies and tools from technical sciences such as mathematics, physics, informatics, statistics, engineering design, and robotics, with biological, environmental, and social sciences in order to understand, manage and design biosystems. The group covers arable farming, (greenhouse) horticulture and livestock farming, as well as novel application domains as they emerge in response to challenges posed by moving towards a more bio-based economy. Typical research instruments include sensing, modelling, control, machine learning, systems analysis, sensor technology, and engineering. More information about the Farm Technology Group can be found on