Soil health monitoring is high on the agenda of the European Commission with the ambition to restore or maintain soil health in 75% of soils across Europe by 2030. To achieve this it is important to have accurate and up-to-date soil data, at the correct spatial resolution. However, the information needed to understand the management of soil health at a local scale is very different to understanding the inter-relationships between soil, land use patterns and climate regions at an European scale. Monitoring soil health at different scales requires different monitoring approaches, from detailed soil sample lab analyses to satellite images at landscape level.

This PhD will evaluate a range of soil indicator measurements of soil health and their scale-dependency to determine the appropriate resolution of the data for monitoring purposes. In addition, the PhD will quantify the temporal variation of selected indicators to understand the frequency of sampling required for robust soil health assessments. Therefore, there is a need to develop and apply methods to generate high-resolution 4D (space, time and depth) soil information and provide a strategy for continuous and affordable updating of soil information.

The PhD will be part of a large pan-European project on Soil Health and will help to co-develop a soil health monitoring framework. The framework will bring together the best scientific knowledge on the role of soil biodiversity in tandem with chemical and physical conditions, soil management, landscape and climate data to understand soil multifunctionality. In addition, stakeholder engagement will be part of the research. Gathering and sharing information and addressing needs and concerns of stakeholders will guide the research activities carried out in this project in order to meet the user needs.

We are looking for a PhD candidate that will scientifically contribute to the development of a European soil health monitoring framework, with a focus on the monitoring design and analyses. The project is a Horizon Europe proposal which is coordinated by Wageningen University and includes 28 other organisations across Europe.  The selected candidate will be based in two of the soil science groups (Soil Geography and Landscape group and the Soil Biology Group) of Wageningen University. This will be a challenging and stimulating project with many opportunities to develop new skills that will make you a well-rounded scientist. If you are a highly motivated and skilled researcher who is excited by the prospect of implementing novel methods; if you like working both independently and in a multidisciplinary team; if you are looking for a challenge, we are looking for you!

The preferred starting date is 1 February 2023

We ask

  • You hold an MSc degree in soil science, agronomy, environmental science, computer science, statistics or related subject and have a clear interest for economic and societal issues in environmental science;
  • You have affinity with applying statistical methods in the earth and environmental sciences, including machine learning, digital soil mapping and proximal soil sensing;
  • You have experience with (open source) geo-information software and programming languages, such as QGIS and the R language for statistical computing;
  • Awareness of soil monitoring and soil health indicator measurements;
  • You have strong analytical capabilities and a sense for scientific innovation;
  • You have affinity with putting science into practice and the abilities to deal with a wide range of user groups;
  • You are a pleasant and intrinsically motivated colleague who takes initiatives.
  • For this position your command of the English language is expected to be at C1 level. Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language.

We offer

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

• sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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 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 € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3.247,- 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 16th 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 position please contact Prof. Rachel Creamer (rachel.creamer@wur.nl) or Dr. Titia Mulder, (titia.mulder@wur.nl).

For more information about the procedure, please contact Edgar Tijhuis, corporate recruiter, edgar.tijhuis@wur.nl

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval. To apply you have to upload a cover letter (max 1page) outlining both your motivation and your suitability for the project, and your CV (max 2 pages) including names and contact details of two potential references.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 2nd December 2022. Interviews will be scheduled on 15-16th December 2022; if you are unavailable these days, please indicate this in your cover letter.

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

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & 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 (6,400 fte) and 13,200 students and over 150.000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.. 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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