PhD in crop and weed ecology

PhD in crop and weed ecology

Published Deadline Location
5 Oct 1 Dec Wageningen

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Job description

We are looking for a motivated PhD candidate with interest in sustainable crop production and biodiversity. Do you want to be a member of our team at Crop & Weed Ecology Group of Wageningen University, Plant Science? We would like to get in contact with you.

Agricultural production worldwide faces huge challenges with respect to environmental sustainability, climate change, labour and society. A paradigm shift is required for the next-generation agricultural production systems that are sustainable, circular and regenerative.

The large Synergia research program (, within which the successful candidate will be working, addresses this need through the new Technology for Ecology (T4E): biological/ecological principles in farming lead the development of new farming systems, and by that the required technological knowledge, principles and tools. This PhD project will specifically aim to generate a better understanding, through experimentation and simulation modelling, on how the simultaneous cropping of plant species (called intercropping) suppresses weeds, and how this knowledge can be used to improve our cropping systems.

The candidate will be placed in the Crop & Weed Ecology Group (CWE) of Wageningen University, Plant Sciences. We do research on the ecology and management of crops, diseases and weeds. We study plant form and adaptation, and ecological processes from plant to landscape scale. We thereby contribute to the development of sustainable agricultural systems that provide high yields with a minimal ecological footprint and that maximally benefit from and contribute to natural biodiversity and its associated ecosystem functions. The PhD will contribute to the quantitative ecology theme of the group, and particularly to the areas of functional diversity in crops and weed ecology.

Because of differential use of resources between species, intercrops tend to be more resource use efficient than sole crops. The focus of this project will be on whether intercrops result in enhanced weed suppression and the extent to which a more complete use of resources by the crops contributes to this ecosystem service. The PhD candidate will analyse how this effect is mediated by crop traits, including plasticity, and crop planting patterns. For this the candidate will use a combination of field and greenhouse competition experiments and a 3D plant simulation model extended with crop-weed interactions. Also, the candidate will analyse how a concomitantly reduced weed seed production will contribute to strategic weed management in a crop-rotational context with a weed trait based demographic model

This PhD project requires experimentation skills as well as modelling skills. Within Synergia's T4E concept, the research will be conducted in collaboration with the partners that focus on the technological, societal and applied aspects of the project. The suitable candidate therefore has knowledge on ecology, plant science, or agronomy, is creative, has a clear affinity with ecological modelling and experimentation, and has good communicative skills enabling him/her to engage with group and project members. Contribution to teaching (up to 10% of work time) is welcomed but not obligatory.


Wageningen University & Research


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with the following qualifications:
  • An MSc degree in plant science, biology, agronomy, or related discipline;
  • Experience or at least affinity with experimental and quantitative modelling methods (modelling, systems analysis, simulation, etc);
  • Interest in sustainable crop production and biodiversity in The Netherlands, as well as in fundamental questions in the domain of plant-plant interactions and crop-weed competition;
  • Ability to think, express, write and communicate scientifically;
  • Proficiency in English, both orally and written.
  • Affinity to work within a larger multi-disciplinary project

Conditions of employment

In principle this is a 4-year PhD position. We offer you a temporary contract for 1 year which will be extended with another three years if you perform well.
Gross salary per month: from € 2395,--, in the first year- up to € 3061,-,- in year 4 based on full time employment. A part time employment is also possible. The position preferably starts February 2022 but the starting date is negotiable.

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • 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 € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- 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.


Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen University & Research
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, 6.800 employees and 12.900 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.

Read the 5 reasons why your future collaegues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Agriculture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 794756


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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