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2 PhD positions on modelling, control, and crop physiology for flexible greenhouse crop production

The Dutch horticultural sector aims at becoming climate neutral before 2050. To accomplish this, a substantial energy saving is needed. For a successful transition to clean energy this should be accompanied with reducing the peaks ...

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Arbeidsvoorwaarden

Standplaats:
Bornsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Dienstverband:
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
Opleidingsniveau:
WO

Functieomschrijving

The Dutch horticultural sector aims at becoming climate neutral before 2050. To accomplish this, a substantial energy saving is needed. For a successful transition to clean energy this should be accompanied with reducing the peaks in energy demand (especially during cold days). This project aims to develop automated decision support for climate management in greenhouses, by employing available streams of momentary and historical data (on crop, weather, energy prices, inside climate, energy buffering), combined with predictive models and decision algorithms. The decision support integrates three aspects: crop control, climate control, and energy provision and purchase.

The two PhD candidates will develop models for crop development, greenhouse climate dynamics, and energy provision. After integrating these models, a control algorithm will be designed that forms the core of a decision support system.

The focus of the PhD candidate (PhD 1) within the Horticulture & Product Physiology group is to investigate how large, how long, or in which combination climate fluctuations can be absorbed before they pose a risk to continuous crop production. Crops are robust with respect to variations in temperature, relative humidity, and light intensity. Using the buffering capacity of crops to absorb fluctuations in temperature, CO2, humidity, and light, allows the indoor climate to temporarily deviate from its set point without affecting crop production. This allows for more flexibility in climate management with respect to varying weather and energy prices.

The focus of the PhD candidate (PhD 2) within the Farm Technology group is to create a decision strategy that employs this flexibility to save a substantial amount of heating energy. Currently, decision support is given on climate and energy management separately. Since climate and energy are interconnected, energy and climate advice should be integrated. Moreover, prognoses on weather and energy availability are uncertain. Managing under uncertainty requires a different optimization approach than what is currently used.

This project is funded by NWO-STW and conducted in cooperation with the funding agency Commit2Data and the consortium companies/institutes LTO Glaskracht, AgroEnergy, Delphy, Letsgrow.com, B-Mex, and WUR Greenhouse Horticulture. You will collaborate with the consortium partners for mutual advice, provision of data, and for application of your algorithms within horticultural practice. Intensive coaching and supervision will be provided by experts in crop physiology, mathematics, control theory, and greenhouse technology. As a starting point of your research, in-house models on crop development, climate dynamics, and energy flow, as well as control algorithms, are readily available.

Functie-eisen

PhD 1 should have a background in plant science or plant biology, with proven skills in quantitative analysis of data and good knowledge of crop physiology, growth and development.

PhD 2 should have a background in mathematical modelling, control design, a basic level of statistics, computer programming, and a keen interest in crop physiology.

Moreover, we seek candidates who are willing to operate within a team of researchers and companies with various backgrounds. For this, excellent communication skills are required as well as excellent command of English, both written and spoken.

Conditions

We offer a full-time position (38 hours), initially for 1 year after which a go/no go decision will be taken on extension with another three years. Gross salary per month € 2.588,= in the first year rising to € 2.984,= per month in the fourth year, for a fulltime appointment.

Additional information

For more information you can contact: Simon van Mourik (simon.vanmourik@wur.nl)

You can apply up and until 25 February 2018. For this position you can only apply online: www.wageningenur.nl/career

Bedrijfsomschrijving

Wageningen University & Research Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus - each and every day. Within our domain of good and safe food & food production, food security and a healthy living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society - such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don't do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on 'the quality of life', turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

You will become part of a cutting edge research programme on greenhouse crop production. The research team is composed of the groups Farm Technology, and Horticulture and Product Physiology of Wageningen University & Research.

Farm Technology Group
The Farm Technology Group is part of Wageningen University and embedded in the Plant Sciences Group of Wageningen UR. The Farm Technology Group aims at enhancing, exploiting and disseminating technology in primary agricultural production processes with the aim to fulfil the needs of mankind and nature in a sustainable way. This mission is achieved by combining knowledge, methodologies and tools from technical sciences with biological, environmental, agricultural and social sciences in order to study, understand, manage and design biosystems. The group covers arable farming, (greenhouse) horticulture and livestock farming and variations and mixtures of these application domains as they emerge in response to challenges posed by moving towards a more bio-based economy. Typical research instruments and expertise in our field include sensor technology, data analysis, systems analysis, continuous time and discrete time modelling, systems engineering, integral systems design, systems optimization and management and control of production processes, robotics and precision agriculture techniques. More information about the Farm Technology Group can be found on www.wageningenur.nl/fte

Horticulture & Product Physiology
The chair group Horticulture & Product Physiology explores and exploits the physiology of plants. It studies how physiological processes in crop plants and plant organs interact with their abiotic environment and how this affects crop production and product quality. Using a systems analytical approach, questions from horticultural practice are translated into fundamental research topics, aiming to explain mechanisms. More information about the Horticulture & Product Physiology Group can be found on www.wageningenur.nl/hpp