PhD Position – Breaking the vicious cycle between supply and demand in technology development for mixed cropping systems:

Are you a talented aspiring researcher who is interested in supporting and motivating technology providers to design the technology needed in future cropping systems? Do you want to understand how dynamics between supply and demand for such technologies might hinder their development, and help us find a solution? Then you are the candidate we are looking for!

We invite applications for the PhD position entitled: ‘Breaking the vicious cycle between supply and demand in technology development for mixed cropping systems’. This research will be carried out within the NWA-financed project entitled ‘Designing mixed cropping systems and transition paths towards sustainable ecology-based agriculture (CropMix)’.

Within CropMix, new business strategies will be developed that are built on sustainable mixed cropping systems. In this PhD project, we specifically focus our attention on the (lack of) development of technologies for such systems. In mixed cropping systems, the interaction between plants is used to make the system more robust against, for example, plagues and weather influences. However, mixing crops in the field creates great challenges for technology, as the complexity of tasks like sowing, planting, and harvesting increases. Especially in highly complex systems, like pixel cropping, this is a challenge.

Currently technology is lacking and farmers are hesitant to switch to more complex systems, because more manual labor is needed, and this type of labor is hard to come by and expensive. Therefore, there is no market for such novel technologies, and technology developers are hesitant to invest. This creates a vicious cycle, preventing novel technologies to be developed.

The aims for this position are:

    To explore what technology is required from an end-user perspective;

    To identify whether this technology is accessible to farmers to adopt ecology-based agriculture practices and products. This will be done for systems with increasing levels of complexity (e.g., strip cropping, row cropping, pixel cropping, and also increasing levels of complexity in agroforestry systems, like alley cropping towards food forests);

    To identify the barriers for quick development and implementation of new technologies and the propositions for overcoming these barriers.

This work will be performed in close cooperation with practice (end users and technology providers). You will work in an interdisciplinary setting, combining insights from social sciences, innovation sciences, and engineering with knowledge of the use of mixed cropping systems.

The research is embedded within the chair Farm Technology which is led by Prof. Peter Groot Koerkamp. You will be co-supervised by dr. Duygu Keskin (Tu/E) and dr. Marjolein Derks (WUR).

We ask

For this PhD position, we are searching an enthusiastic result-driven candidate with:

  •     an MSc degree in (1) social sciences or innovation sciences and/or (2) agricultural engineering;
  •     the ability to work in a multidisciplinary team of social and natural scientists;
  •     oral and written proficiency in English and, preferably, Dutch;
  •     affinity with or knowledge of arable farming systems;
  •     experience in stakeholder analysis and stakeholder interaction.

The PhD project will take place within the Agricultural Biosystems Engineering (FTE) group of Wageningen University, in close relation with the Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences group of Eindhoven University. You will be supervised by prof. Peter Groot Koerkamp and dr. Marjolein Derks from the Agricultural Biosystems Engineering (FTE) group, WUR, and dr. Duygu Keskin from the Innovation, Technology Entrepreneurship and Marketing (ITEM) group, TU/e. ITEM focuses on understanding and improving new business and product development processes within firms, organizations, and institutions in a high-tech context.

We offer

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

  •     sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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 € 2,541.- per month rising to € 3,247.- in the fourth year for a full- time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended with 30 months 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 18th 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. 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. For instance under the “30% rule”, certain categories of international staff can receive tax exemption on approximately 30% of their gross salary.

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Marjolein Derks, assistant professor,

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.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including Monday, February 27th 2023. We hope to schedule the first job interviews mid March 2023.

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. For more information please go to our inclusivity page. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment.

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.


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