Skip to main content
Bayi Glacier in Qilian Mountain, China (Credit: Xiaoming Wang, distributed via

Job advertisement Doctoral student in Climate Smart Soil Management

EGU logo

European Geosciences Union

Doctoral student in Climate Smart Soil Management

Doctoral student in Climate Smart Soil Management

Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) logo

Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO)

Our organization

Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) is a multidisciplinary research institute of the Flemish government with a focus on supporting sustainable agriculture, horticulture, fisheries and food research.

Based on 5 central values – Positivity, Being Proactive, Professionalism, Working Together and Being an Example, we are steadily building on the expansion of ILVO as a socially relevant center of expertise. We work together within a culture of open communication based on mutual trust.

And … maybe you too can play a role in this beautiful story! We employ more than 700 staff members, about half of whom are researchers. About 70% of the staff is employed by ILVO on the basis of project and contract research; the remainder works for the Flemish Government.

This vacancy is situated within the Plant Sciences Unit.


Ghent, Belgium


Relevant division
Soil System Sciences (SSS)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship


Required education

Application deadline
26 January 2023

16 January 2023

Job description

Are you interested in studying how to make agricultural soils more resilient to weather extremes? Do you have a hands-on mentality and do you like to carry out field experiments? Would you like to model the effect of adapted soil management measures on water flux? Do you like a varied job in which you can work in depth as well as results-oriented? Then you are the colleague we are looking for!

The vacancy in brief

Extreme weather conditions, such as those that have occurred in recent years and will occur more frequently in the future, disrupt the water, temperature and air balance in the soil. Longer periods without rainfall lead to more drought, while more intensive rainfall not only increases the risk of flooding and soil erosion, but also causes soil structure decay that reduces the soil’s capacity to build its moisture reserves. The combined result is soil and crops that are less able to withstand extreme weather patterns.

ILVO, in partnership with Ghent University, is looking for a PhD fellow for a period of 4 years to study the impact and feasibility of adapted soil management practices, particularly mulching and reduced tillage on water evaporation, infiltration and retention, as an adaptation mechanism against extreme weather conditions. The context is Flemish agriculture as a whole, i.e., conventional and organic cropping systems.

At ILVO you will join a multidisciplinary team within the Plant Sciences Unit. At Ghent University you get a permanent place within the Environment Department of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering within an international team working on sustainable soil water management under a changing climate. You will be involved in the ongoing project “Soil Structure, Soils Managed in a Climate-Resilient Way” (SOILSTRUCT). In this project, we investigate how the combination of soil management practices and a changing climate affect water fluxes, crop growth and crop physiology. We do this experimentally and using models based on field plots at growers and at project partner Inagro, at the ILVO trial fields and under semi-controlled conditions in the FABPS (Field Above and Belowground Phenotyping System) infrastructure of ILVO. The researcher is also expected to complete a PhD during this grant period (in collaboration with Ghent University).

What does your job look like?

As a PhD student you are responsible for independent scientific research under the supervision of your co-promotors. For example, you will be asked to:

  • identify the role of mulching and specific management measures that enable mulching by a literature study
  • conduct field experiments with mulching and adapted tillage for drought-sensitive crops such as potato and celeriac
  • understand and predict the effect of specific cultivation measures through modeling
  • write publications and reports and give presentations on your results with the final goal of achieving a PhD. There will be many opportunities to taker trainings to improve technical and personal competences.
  • meet with the other SOILSTRUCT partners and (inter)national conferences. This may sometimes involve a short trip abroad.

You recognize yourself here

  • You have a Master’s degree In Science, Bioengineering or equivalent. Final year candidates are also encouraged to apply.
  • If you hold a foreign diploma, we ask you to obtain equivalence recognition. You can apply for this at NARIC Flanders (NARIC-Flanders).
  • You meet the generic conditions for carrying out a PhD Requirements and regulations for PhD grants ILVOILVO Vlaanderen
  • You have experience with performing field experiments and sampling
  • You have (basic) experience with the (statistical) processing of data (e.g. R,…)
  • You have (basic) knowledge of modeling (e.g. Python, R,…)
  • You can report in a scientific way to various stakeholders
  • You have a good written and spoken knowledge of English

Personal competences

  • You like to work in depth, yet you are results-oriented
  • You can communicate your results fluently with different (international) target groups
  • You can work independently but are also a team player

Plus points

  • You are interested in the agricultural sector
  • You have experience with soil moisture sensors
  • You have experience with modelling, e.g. with Hydrus
  • You are in possession of a (Belgian/international) driving license B (automobile)

What do we offer?

We offer you a 4-year PhD scholarship financed by ILVO’s Own Capital (first 3 years), in close collaboration with Ghent University (financing last year).

  • The doctoral grant is initially granted for 1 year and can be extended to 4 years if evaluated positively. The scholarship is free of personal tax, but does contribute to your social security (e.g., pension).
  • The net grant amount at ILVO is €2,528.01 net (2,908.1 gross) for the first 2 years. For the last two years it is €2,623.42 net (3,017.85 gross). These amounts may differ from the grant amounts at the university.

You will have a varied, challenging and socially relevant job in a dynamic environment with plenty of development opportunities. An ILVO employee works hard but can also enjoy a lot of fun thanks to flexible working hours, the possibility of hybrid working (if the position allows it) and a generous number of paid holidays and other types of leave.

Target date for recruitment: 1st of march 2023

How to apply

You apply online via Jobs – ILVO Vlaanderen no later than 26/01/2023. If you cannot apply online, you can request the application form via

The following documents are uploaded as 1 PDF:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Copy of diploma
  • Overview of your study results

Suitable candidates (based on CV screening) will be invited for an interview 7th of February 2023 (date subject to change). Please include a phone number where you can be reached during the day and your email address on your CV.

ILVO wants to reflect the society it works for as closely as possible. You will be selected on the basis of your qualities and skills, regardless of your gender, origin, age or handicap. If you have a disability, please let us know in advance. ILVO provides reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities during the selection procedure. Do you need certain adaptations to be able to participate in a selection? Please contact the contact person mentioned in the vacancy as early as possible in the procedure.

Need more info?

Job content:
Maarten De Boever, researcher, +32 9 272 26 80,
Wim Cornelis, Professor of Soil Physics, Ghent University, +32 9 264 60 40,

Employment conditions:
Edith Bauwens, HR Specialist, +32 9 272 25 63,