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Postdoc Soft-sensing in agri-food systems

Are you that enthusiastic researcher who loves to work on soft-sensing in agri-food systems then this might be the job for you!Sensing is a crucial aspect of …

5 maanden geleden


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


Are you that enthusiastic researcher who loves to work on soft-sensing in agri-food systems then this might be the job for you!

Sensing is a crucial aspect of the work of the Farm Technology group. We use sensors to collect data from agri-food systems, to get a better understanding of that system, to model it, to validate those models, to control these systems, to diagnose the system and, last but not least, to assess progress when (partially) redesigning an agri-food system. The group has a strong position in imaging and spectroscopic sensing, yet we see a need to expand our work to other sensing modalities like sensing of gaseous emissions and sensing of chemical and physical properties of objects or systems. Examples of previous and ongoing work include but are not limited to:
  • providing an early warning on the health status of plant and animals based on measuring their internal processes or volatile emissions.
  • real-time monitoring of the ventilation rate of greenhouses using a soft-sensing approach. Natural ventilation of greenhouses is hard to measure directly in real-time. Knowledge of that property offers the opportunity to implement energy saving control strategies.
  • monitoring the enteric methane production by cows. Sensing of that property is used to study and mitigate the environmental impact of livestock systems. We also see a need and interesting opportunities in assessment of nutrient/gas losses and water flows in field crop systems.
All these examples share a common denominator: a soft-sensing approach. Soft sensing is seen as combining one or more existing (indirect) sensor signals with knowledge or models of the system to assess properties of that system that cannot easily be sensed directly. Some of these concepts have proven their capabilities in a small scale or laboratory setting. Transfer to and test of these methodologies in agri-food practice still proves to be very challenging. This demands good skills in both mathematics of modelling as well as statistics.

The postdoc position is aimed at developing soft-sensing principles and to assess their performance in terms of accuracy and precision in real life agri-food systems. Application domains will include livestock farming, arable farming, greenhouse horticulture and post-harvest sorting and processing.

As a postdoc you will contribute to ongoing research and to develop novel research projects and support the acquisition of suitable funding. You will closely work together with colleagues within the Farm Technology group as well as with our partners within Wageningen University & Research as well as industry. Initiating and supervision of BSc, MSc and PhD projects is one of your tasks. Also you will contribute knowledge on sensing to ongoing courses within the Bachelor and Master programme Biosystems Engineering. You will report project results through papers in the relevant peer reviewed journals, presentations and conference proceedings.

Supported by the senior staff of the group, we ask you to lead the development of this field within the group. When successful we consider extending this position to a Tenure Track position within the group.


  • A university degree (MSc) in physics or engineering with emphasis on (soft-)sensing;
  • A PhD relevant to the soft-sensing approach;
  • Knowledge and skills in mathematical modelling;
  • Knowledge and skills in statistics for sensor validation;
  • Affinity with agricultural or ecological systems;
  • Proven scientific ambition, proven performance in scientific publishing, and strong ambition to publish future work;
  • A team player who can work independently yet also communicates well with colleagues;
  • Skills to be an inspiring one-to-one supervisor of students during their BSc, MSc and PhD research projects;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English;
  • Proven (project) leadership skills will be an advantage;
  • Proven project acquisition skills will be an advantage.
  • Experience with cooperation with other scientific disciplines and industry will be an advantage;
  • Experience with course teaching and willingness to further develop your didactical skills;


A challenging position with, depending on your experience, a competitive salary from a minimum of € 2.836,-to a maximum of € 4.447,- for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities. An appointment of 0.8 FTE is negotiable.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural end-of-year bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • flexible working hours and holidays can possibly be figured out in consultation so that an optimal balance between work and private life is possible;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours per year, plus the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities on campus.
Wageningen University & Research stimulates internal career opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are ample opportunities for own initiative in a learning environment. We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

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.

Additional information

Do you want more information?
For more information about this function, please contact Prof.dr.ir. E.J. van Henten, Professor in Biosystems Engineering, telephone +31 (0)317-483328, email: eldert.vanhenten@wur.nl or Prof.dr.ir. Peter Groot Koerkamp, chair of the Farm Technology group, e-mail peter.grootkoerkamp@wur.nl.

For more information about the procedure, please contact vacaturemeldingen.psg@wur.nl.

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy is open until February 27, 2022. The first job interviews will take place in March 2022.

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.