An aspiring PhD student to investigate the potential of artificial intelligence towards a recommendation system for fertilizer and pesticide application in an open-field smart robotic platform. In particular, you will research AI models that learn from multi-modal data and crop simulations how and when liquid fertilizer and pesticides need to be applied, with the overall objective to reduce their use.

Conventional spraying methods result in excessive pesticide and fertilizer use, posing severe environmental impact – being responsible for soil, water and air pollution, and harming non-target plants, insects, animals and humans. This research is part of a EU-funded collaborative project that aims to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use through AI, data science and robotic technologies. You will work together with an interdisciplinary team of experts in deep learning, artificial intelligence, crop modelling and agricultural robotics.

The successful candidate shall develop AI models with reinforcement learning that recommend optimal application of fertilizers and pesticides with real-time data collected from field applications and demonstrate it in real open-field environments, in collaboration with project partners all across Europe. Recent advances within our group on related topics provide a relevant basis for novel broad-impact contributions. The research is hosted within the Laboratory for Geo-information Science and Remote Sensing.

We ask

  • A MSc degree in artificial intelligence, computer science, environmental science, biosystems engineering, or a similar relevant field.
  • Strong interest in or related experiences in artificial intelligence or crop modelling.
  • You are proficient in programming, preferably with Python
  • Excellent English language skills (C1 level).
  • You are motivated, curious and willing to work in a highly dynamic team
  • Candidates should meet all the entry requirements of the WUR PE&RC PhD programme.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.434,- per month rising to € 3.111,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere. You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research’s International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

For more information about this function you can contact prof. dr. Ioannis Athanasiadis, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science,
To learn more about the procedure you can contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter,

Do you want to apply?
This can be done directly via the application button at the vacancy on our website so that we can process your personal data with your permission.
This vacancy is open until and including 21st June 2022. We will plan the first interviews soon afterwards via teleconference.
The position is available from September 2022, with a duration of four years. Strong candidates that will graduate shortly after September 2022 are encouraged to apply too.

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. 

We are

The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

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