PhD Belowground interactions in diverse cropping systems

PhD Belowground interactions in diverse cropping systems

Published Deadline Location
31 Oct 27 Nov Wageningen

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Job description

Do you have an MSc in Plant Biology, (Soil) Ecology or related fields (soil science, microbial ecology or phytopathology). And do you want to understand soil functional biodiversity through interactive relationships with nutrient cycling, soil-borne pathogens and mutualists? Then read on for two unique PhD positions!

The research programme CropMix is a transdisciplinary Dutch Research Agenda initiative led by a diversity of researchers from Wageningen University & Research. The agricultural sector and interdisciplinary scientists are joining forces to achieve a breakthrough in the transition to sustainable arable farming. We study how crop diversity in the field can benefit from ecological processes to partly replace pesticides and fertilisation. Crop mixtures, strip cropping and rotation of crops over time enhances pest and disease suppression, and can ensure more efficient use of nutrients and sunlight to promote plant growth. Sustainable crop production with crop mixtures also contributes to reaching biodiversity goals. CropMix also investigates how measures to increase general biodiversity can be factored into the price of products or into farm subsidies, as well as what societal and institutional changes in the food system are needed to accelerate the transition to sustainable mixed crop production.

Two complementary PhD candidates who will identify how crop diversity in space (e.g. strip cropping) and time (e.g. rotation) affects two important belowground processes: nutrient cycling, including decomposition and use efficiency of different nutrient sources (Project A) and the risk of soil-borne disease outbreaks (Project B). The aim of the projects is to find crop combinations and belowground plant traits that are beneficial for nutrient cycling and soil-borne disease suppression. These PhD projects will contribute to understanding soil functional biodiversity through interactive relationships with nutrient cycling, soil-borne pathogens and mutualists.

These projects within CropMix are a collaboration between the Environmental Science Groups 'Soil Biology' and 'Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation'. For more information about the CropMix project as a whole: Transition to sustainable arable farming given new impulse with €10 million research grant - WUR.


Wageningen University & Research


  • Successfully completed MSc in Plant Biology, (Soil) Ecology or related fields (soil science, microbial ecology or phytopathology).
  • Affinity with plant-soil interactions and plant traits, either related to soil nutrient dynamics (project A: e.g. mineralisation and microbial activity) or soil-borne pathogens (project B: e.g. pathogen identification and quantification).
  • Experience with experimental design and data analyses, as the project is challenging in these aspects.
  • Conceptual thinking, as this is another important asset in this complex project.
  • For project B bioinformatic skills are an advantage.
  • Excellent communication skills in English, both verbally as written. Communication with Dutch farmers when visiting their fields is part of the job.
  • Team player, as both projects are complementary and fit within the transdisciplinary CropMix project.
  • Driving license is a must as several fields of farmers must be visited.
  • You meet all the entry requirements of the WUR PhD programme.

Conditions of employment

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

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.


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.

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


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • P1093608-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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