Plant Sciences Unit PhD researcher: Vertical Farming

Do you want to contribute to the indoor farming revolution? Are you intrigued by the possibilities of sensors and artificial intelligence to develop automatic monitoring of plant growth, climate and pests in a vertical farming system? Do you want to apply this technology in practice and develop tools for the ornamental plant grower of the future? Then you are the person we are looking for.

Important information

  • Location: Melle
  • Contract type: Full-time
  • Diploma: Master diploma
  • Application deadline Friday 07/10/2022

Your capabilities

  • You recently obtained a Master degree in Bio Engineer, Civil Engineer, Computer Science or Biology or equivalent.
  • If you are in possession of a foreign diploma, we will ask you to obtain equivalence recognition. You can apply for this from NARIC Flanders (NARIC-Vlaanderen - NARIC-Vlaanderen).
  • You meet the generic conditions to carry out a PhD Doctoral grants requirements and regulations
  • You have knowledge of Python, R
  • You have a good written and spoken knowledge of English and preferably also Dutch
  • You are in possession of a driving licence B

Candidate Skills

  • You can work independently but are also a team player
  • You are flexible and stress resistant
  • You are proactive and take initiative


  • You have knowledge of plant cultivation/pests
  • You have knowledge of plant/crop models

We offer

We offer you a 4 year PhD position in a collaboration between ILVO and UGent

  • The doctoral scholarship is initially granted for 1 year and can be extended to 4 years, after a favorable evaluation. The scholarship is free of personal income tax, but does contribute to your social security (e.g. pension).
  • The grant amount is 2,359.99 net (2,714.82 gross) for the first 2 years. For the final 2 years the amount is 2471.40 net (2842.97 bruto).

You get a varied, challenging and socially relevant job in a dynamic environment with numerous development opportunities. An ILVO employee works hard but can also enjoy hard work thanks to flexible working hours, the possibility of hybrid work (if the position allows it) and an attractive holiday arrangement.

By using images, we monitor plant development in vertical cultivation systems. Data-driven self-learning modelling is then used to develop a cultivation planning tool from this data that should allow the grower to take the appropriate management decisions. This will be worked out for different 'use cases', ranging from specific cultivation processes (e.g. propagation, forcing, ...) to a complete cultivation process. The ultimate aim is to use vertical farming to develop an alternative, more energy-efficient production system for greenhouse crops.

Need more information?

photo of peter lootens

Peter Lootens

Precision farming and phenotyping expert