Postdoc Development of a decision-support system for potato production

Research / Academic
Are you that enthusiastic researcher that likes to work on modelling and programming, and apply it to improve processes in crop production?

'Yield gap analysis for sustainable potato production' (Potato Gap NL) is a project funded by NWO and Holland Innovative Potato (HIP), 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 are 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 post-doc researcher who can integrate the work from two PhD students under step 1 and 2 in the third step. The potato growth models of step 1 and structured knowledge obtained from the statistical analyses of step 2 will be combined and integrated into a practical and user-friendly Decision-Support System (DSS). Based upon requirement analyses with farmers, HIP partners and project partners, prototypes of the DSS will be developed, which can potentially be integrated in systems of HIP partners and Akkerweb. The DSS will allow farmers to benchmark the performance (yield, quality, resource use efficiency and environmental impacts) of their fields against other fields and other farms, and against the location-specific potential yield. A dashboard will show whether fields are among the best, average or worst performing fields, and by comparing their own biophysical conditions and management with better performing fields, farmers will be able to learn on improved management.


We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:
  • A PhD in the area of plant sciences, agronomy, or informatics
  • Well-developed modelling and programming skills
  • Experience with crop production
  • Excellent oral and written communication in English and preferably in Dutch, and good communication skills This position requires an excellent English language proficiency (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

Salary Benefits:

We offer a meaningful and challenging position with, depending on your experience, a competitive salary from a minimum of €2.790 to a maximum of € 4.402 for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities
In principle this is a 26 month post-doc position at 0.8 fte. We offer you a temporary contract for 12 months which will be extended with 14 months if you perform well.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • an end-of-the-year bonus of 8.3% of your annual salary
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be determined in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • make use of the sports facilities on campus for a small fee.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment.
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

The team
The successful applicant will be based at the Plant Production Systems Group (PPS) and co-supervised by scientists from Agrosystems Research (also WU). In addition the candidate will work closely with two PhD students and a research assistant (who is 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.
Work Hours:

30 hours per week