PhD position in Enhancing Carbon Sequestration using refined compost in agricultural soils (1.0 FTE)

PhD position in Enhancing Carbon Sequestration using refined compost in agricultural soils (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
14 Feb 27 Mar Utrecht

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Can cover crops and compost combat climate change? Discover how to steer soil and residue microbiomes to obtain climate friendly agricultural soils.

Job description

The ClipsMicro project
Dutch agriculture faces the major challenge of contributing to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. This objective can be contributed to by sequestrating more CO2 in soils and crops while at the same time reducing the emission of other greenhouse gases. In the NWA call ‘Climate-friendly agricultural soils’ two projects focus on how microbes in the soil, separately or in collaboration with plants, can contribute to increased carbon storage and decreased emissions of greenhouse gases, especially nitrous oxide. Within the ClipsMIcro project, researchers from Utrecht University (UU) , the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), the Louis Bolk Institute and Aeres University of Applied Sciences (Dronten) will be working with companies from the agricultural, horticultural, the plant breeding, the composting and soil analysis sectors. This combination of scientific and agro-business partners will develop novel strategies that utilize refined composts and cover crops to steer and nurture microorganisms in soil and organic inputs to realize a year-round contribution of the soil microbiome to carbon sequestration and mitigation of GHG emissions in arable sandy soils.

Within the ClipsMicro project we are hiring two PhD students that collaborate closely. One student is appointed at NIOO-KNAW, one at UU. This opening describes the PhD position at Utrecht University. For the Job position at Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) with a focus on Biological Nitrification Inhibition in cover crops as an emission reduction measure, please see the opening at NIOO-KNAW.

PhD position at Utrecht University, department of Ecology and Biodiversity
Aim of your research is to establish a mechanistic understanding of the physical and microbiological properties of organic soil amendments that lead to increased soil carbon stocks and associated microbial necromass upon field application. To accomplish this you will:

  • screen mineral and biologically amended composts for enhanced functional and physical properties;
  • test the impacts of enhanced compost amendments on soil carbon sequestration potentials;
  • demonstrate optimized agricultural management strategies in the field. 

Experiments will be carried in close cooperation with a the fellow PhD candidate in this project who is based at the NIOO-KNAW in Wageningen as well as other collaborating partners and relevant stakeholders.


Utrecht University


For this PhD position, we are looking for an enthusiastic motivated candidate with:
  • a Master's degree or equivalent in Ecology, Microbial Ecology, Soil Science or Biogeochemistry;
  • a strong interest in mechanistic soil ecological research;
  • experience in one of the following fields: molecular biological analyses, soil chemical and physical analysis; soil microbiology; biogeochemistry;
  • a good command of academic English both orally and in writing;
  • the ability to perform both independently and as part of a team;
  • demonstrated organisational and communication skills.

Conditions of employment

  • a full time appointment (1.0 FTE) for four years in a dynamic international working environment at the Ecology and Biodiversity group of Utrecht University;
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from €2,541 per month in the first year to €3,247 per month in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities);
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow.

For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

Are you an international applicant? Then do have a look here for more information about what our International Service desk does and click here for the what and how on living in the Netherlands.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. Find out more about us.

You will work in the Ecology and Biodiversity research group at Utrecht University. The central research theme of the group is to understand how ecosystems respond to changes in climate and land use. We want to use novel insights gained in ecosystem responses to inform future policy and management. Within the Ecology and Biodiversity research group, extensive experience has been gained in research on peatland regions. In addition, the research group has been working for some time on the effects of microbial community composition and function on ecosystem services in response to changing climate and land use. The focus of the group is on effects of drought, flooding and of nitrogen addition on soil carbon storage.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1204883



Padualaan 8, 3584 CH, Utrecht

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