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

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

Wageningen University, Netherlands


The Dutch horticultural sector aims at becoming climate neutral before 2050. To accomplish this, a substantial energy saving is needed. This should be accompanied with reducing the peaks in energy demand (especially during cold days) is essential. 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,, 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.

Function Requirements

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.


More information to be found here


Wageningen University, NL

Printed from on 24/02/18 02:08:02 AM

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