Post Doc in Control and Decision Support in Greenhouse Cultivation
Wageningen University
Netherlands

Postdoc Control and Decision Support in Greenhouse Cultivation

Location Wageningen

We are looking for

Are you that enthusiastic researcher that likes to work on modelling and control, and apply it to improve processes in agriculture and food production?

Together with an inter-disciplinary team of researchers, we started a challenging research project with the aim to develop a digital twin of tomato crops in a greenhouse environment. The aim of this postdoc position is to employ the digital twin to optimally control the tomato development process. This done by optimizing 1) the climate, 2) plant handling, and 3) greenhouse structural properties.

The research challenges

Plant scientists at Wageningen University and Research developed virtual plant models, so-called functional-structural plant models. Based on a number of parameters, these models can represent the shape, architecture, and function of a plant, as well as predict future growth. Engineers at Wageningen University and Research have developed dynamic models describing greenhouse climate, sensors, and actuators such as heaters, screen operators, window openers, and carbon dioxide injectors.

There are two main challenges. The first challenge is that tomato plant models are not very accurate, so control actions based on future predictions are not very reliable. Within this project, a method will be developed to accurately monitors the actual crop status and puts it online, in order to benefit control performance.
The second challenge is that plant handling, such as pruning old leaves, is of major importance. Leaves produce a lot of energy for the plant by means of photosynthesis, but maintaining them also demands a lot of energy. The tomato model employed in this project describes plant and leaf architecture, and will allow us to investigate the value of controlling this architecture, for example by leaf pruning.  

The aim of this postdoc research is to develop greenhouse climate control by means of model predictive control, in combination with a Bayesian state estimator. This controller is then extended with additional actions regarding plant architecture modifications. Finally, the long term greenhouse management strategy will be optimized, by optimizing structural properties such as the transmissivity
and diffusivity of the glass cover. The outcomes will help growers in determining their daily management strategies, as well as their investment strategies. In the project, you will work  in a multi-disciplinary team consisting of plant scientists, modelers, and specialists in artificial intelligence.

We ask

  • you are a motivated researcher holding a PhD in the area of systems and control, robotics and/or artificial intelligence;
  • you have a proven track-record in optimization and control, with real-world applications;
  • you have experience or interest in working with plants and their physiology;
  • you enjoy the interaction, communication and collaboration with other researchers in an inter-disciplinary team;
  • you are an independent researcher that can take control over his/her project;
  • you are motivated by the fact that the developed technologies will be taken out of the lab and applied to improve agriculture;
  • you have good oral and written communication skills, with publications in top journals and conferences;
  • we encourage female researchers to apply
This position requires an excellent English language proficiency  (a mininum of CEFR C1 level). For more information about this proficiency level, please visit our special language page.

We offer

We offer a meaningful and challenging position with, depending on your experience, a competitive salary from a minimum of € 3.123 to a maximum of € 4.274 for a full working week of 38 hours in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities. The job is for a period of 3 years (1 year after a positive evaluation extension for another 2 years) at an international leading organization.

  • A temporary contract for one year, which can be extended with two years. In addition, we offer a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-the-year bonus of 8,3% of your annual salary. A competitive salary and flexible leave/holiday plan
  • A fun and excellent research team with an international reputation in computer vision and robotics applied in agriculture and biosystems engineering, embedded in a life-science university.
  • A collaboration within the inter-disciplinary project “Virtual Tomato Crop”, with participation of different chair groups at Wageningen University and Research.
  • A good academic working atmosphere and an inspiring university campus.
  • A professional and personal development program.

More information

You can apply up to and including July 14, 2020
For this position you can only apply online: http://www.wageningenur.nl/career


Please do not upload more than 6 pages in total.

We are

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Within Wageningen University & Research, nine specialised research institutes from the Wageningen Research Foundation and Wageningen University have joined forces to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With approximately 30 locations, 6,000 employees, and 12,000 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of the unique approach of Wageningen.

For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at the special career site.

You will be employed at the Farm Technology (FTE) group at Wageningen University and Research. FTE has a long history in developing greenhouse optimization and control. You will work together with an experienced team of researchers in the area of artificial intelligence, plant-growth modelling, crop physiology, greenhouse modelling and greenhouse climate control.


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