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Postdoc-candidate on Soil Food Web Analysis for Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture

You will work as a Postdoc in the NWO-Green project: “Vital soils for sustainable intensification of agriculture”. A key challenge for sustainable intensification of agriculture is to produce increasing amounts of food, feed and bioenergy ...

7 months


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 3111 - € 4048 per maand


You will work as a Postdoc in the NWO-Green project: “Vital soils for sustainable intensification of agriculture”. A key challenge for sustainable intensification of agriculture is to produce increasing amounts of food, feed and bioenergy, with minimal loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Soil plays a crucial role in sustainable intensification. However, conversion of conventional into more sustainable (organic) systems takes time and is often accompanied by a yield gap, which can last more than 10 years.

In this project, we aim to unravel biological, chemical and physical mechanisms underlying high yields and stability in sustainable (organically) managed agricultural fields and we test how the transition from conventional to sustainable (organic) agriculture can be accelerated. We will identify factors that predict successful transition in soil properties and functioning and that can serve as indicators for vital soils of sustainably intensified agriculture. Within the project, there are already two PhD students active, on soil ecology and on soil organic matter-related chemistry and physics. As a Postdoc you will focus on conversion in soil food web composition and functioning under land use transition from conventional to sustainable (organic) agriculture. You will study soil micro- and macrobiome composition and functioning, using high throughput sequencing techniques, stable isotope probing (SIP), and associated analyses.


We look for enthusiastic candidates who can think conceptually, with excellent writing and presentation skills, and who are great team workers. Experience with one or more of the following techniques/approaches will be your advantage: experimental skills with microbes or/and soil fauna, IRMS and GC-c-IRMS (data) analysis, bioinformatics, network analysis. Further experimental approaches include detailed spatial sampling in long-term field experiments and farmer’s fields, along with microcosm and mesocosm experiments under controlled conditions.

The project will be carried out in close collaboration with the Department of Soil Quality of Wageningen University and the Department of Conservation Biology of Leiden University.


Strong motivation and enthusiasm

PhD degree in (molecular microbial) soil ecology, or a related field

Research experience or demonstrated affinity with one or several of the following subjects: soil ecology, field and greenhouse experiments, soil chemistry analyses, molecular identification of soil microbes/biota and stable isotope techniques

Experience with large datasets and data/statistical analysis; bioinformatics and network analysis will be a plus

Good communicative skills (fluency in English required)

Driving license



This is a temporary appointment, fulltime for a fixed term of 3 years.


Salary depends on training and work experience. The gross salary starts at € 3.111,- (scale 10.4) per month to the maximum gross monthly salary of a full-time appointment at € 4.048,- (scale 10.12) per month, Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten), excluding 8% holiday pay and a year-end bonus. We offer an extensive package of fringe benefits.

Additional information

Additional information about this vacancy is available upon request from Prof. W.H. van der Putten (tel. +31 (0)317-473599, e-mail: w.vanderputten@nioo.knaw.nl) or Dr. GF Veen (tel. +31 (0)317 473610, e-mail: c.veen@nioo.knaw.nl). Information on the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) can be found at http://www.nioo.knaw.nl.

Funding: The “Vital soils” project is funded by the Green-program of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).


The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) is a top research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). NIOO-KNAW focuses on fundamental and strategic research into individual organisms, populations, ecological communities, and ecosystems. The mission is to carry out excellent research in ecology.