Postdoc researcher Digital Twin development for circular agricultural production systems

Research / Academic
Are you looking for a postdoc position in the field of agriculture and decision support tools focused on Digital Twin development to explore circular agricultural production systems?

The postdoc, a 3 year project, will develop a blueprint to represent digitally in real-time the main, waste and by-product streams between crops and livestock for optimal use of protein for feed and food. A better utilization of agricultural waste streams contributes to food security, resource conservation and adaptation to climate change. Digital twins are essentially models of individual objects or processes that are continuously fed by real-time information on the object or process and provide means for studying current and predicted behaviour.

The goal of this postdoc project is to develop an integrated approach to optimize the use of agricultural waste streams, which are currently lost from the farm and regional system, for provision of protein for animal feed and human food, with a case study in the Nakuru region in Kenya. In the first phase an analysis of the prevailing farming system, including both crops and livestock, is done to arrive at an inventory of types and amounts of waste streams, where they occur and how they could be used (for example in biorefinery), with an eye on protein extraction potential. Different uses of crops, crop residues and other waste streams will be evaluated with a model-based scenario for the Nakuru region aiming at increasing food availability and sustainable food systems. In the second phase the foundation for a digital twin will be laid by identifying what models to combine to arrive at an overall model of food, feed and waste streams in a region or country, what data to measure/integrate to populate and interconnect these models and in what way the resulting digital twin could or should be used to guide decision making at various levels. The end result will be a blueprint for a digital twin in circular agricultural production systems, including a specification of requirements, an approach to development and a feasibility study.

The postdoc is part of the Digital Twins investment programme at Wageningen University & Research in collaboration with the programmes Connected Circularity and Protein Transition. The overarching research theme of this collaboration is agriculture innovation in developing countries. Key in the project is to have an integrated approach that ensures that decisions made locally, at an individual farm or location, contribute to finding an optimal solution at larger scales and vice versa, of regions or countries. The work will be carried out in Wageningen (at the Operations Research & Logistics group and at Plant Production Systems group and in Kenya at Egerton University (several months during the project period) in Nakuru, in collaboration with 3 PhD students in the theme and in close consultation with the other researchers and supervisors in the project.


For this interdisciplinary project we are looking for an enthusiastic person:
  • conceptual thinker that is able to connect current agricultural practices with potential, novel biorefinery developments and assess the implications of such system change on both supply chain, regional and farm level;
  • having a completed PhD in applied Mathematics, Decision Sciences, Operations Research combined with Agriculture Sciences or a background in simulation modelling of agricultural systems or another topic that suits you to work on this research project;
  • willing to work several months in Kenya throughout the project (taking the possibilities to travel into account);
  • with the ability to work in a team with people with different backgrounds and you must have a flexible, positive and problem solving attitude. This position requires excellent communication, integration and organizational skills;
  • experienced in the collection and analysis of farm and regional data in agricultural systems and knowledge of agricultural systems in (Eastern) Africa are desired;
  • with a proven publication record in international journals;
  • and active knowledge of English (spoken and written, a minimum of CEFR C2 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

Salary Benefits:

A 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 Wageningen University (scale 10). An appointment of 0.8 FTE is negotiable, the total duration of the project will be longer. In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural end-of year bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours that we determine together in good consultation;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes, e.g. the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra for extra leave;
  • a flexible model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace on the Wageningen Campus;
  • make use of the sports facilities on campus for a small fee.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with our internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for personal initiative in a learning environment. With us you get a versatile job in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.
Work Hours:

38 hours per week