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Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

7.6 PhD project: Organic residues engineering to enhance soil organic matter and related ecosystem services

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    ChemistryOrganic chemistry
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    14/05/2018 12:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Netherlands › Leeuwarden
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND



The slow decline of organic matter in many European soils is one of the biggest environmental threats. Organic matter in soils is essential as it affects water quality and water holding capacity, soil fertility and therefore food production, and furthermore the climate through CO2 sequestration and carbon storage. As such it plays a vital role in the provisioning of many ecosystem services. Soil organic matter affects the biological, chemical and physical properties of the soil and therefore it is a key component in maintain soil functionality and productivity. Treatments of organic (residual) streams such as sewage sludge, animal manures and agricultural plant residues, through e.g. composting, anaerobic digestion and fermentation, prior to land application is widely applied in agriculture to improve soil structure and fertility. However, the biochemical composition of the organic matter resulting from these treatments and its short and long term effects on soil structure and on its biochemical composition is still not well understood. This project aims on the optimal treatment of organic residues that can improve soil organic matter. Composting, fermentation and digestion, will be used to compare the influence of these treatments and their products on the soil characteristics like redox condition, the ratio of stable/unstable organic compounds and microbial ecosystem.


Research challenge

The goal of this research project is to test and design residue (pre)treatments to apply in agriculture in order to achieve most optimal effects with respect to soil organic matter. This project will test the long and short term effects of organic waste streams treatment application on soil chemical properties combining water treatment technologies with soil chemistry and microbiology.


Key questions are:

  • What are the resulting chemical and microbiological properties of residues after treatment and how do they relate to the technology applied and the receiving soil?
  • What is the effect of treatment of organic waste streams (e.g. composting, anaerobic digestion, Bokashi treatment) on organic matter content in soils and its biochemical composition?
  • What are the key chemical and biological parameters influencing soil processes and related ecosystem service in relation to organic matter?
  • How can organic (residual) streams be technologically manipulated to fit the ecosystem services that soil provides



For this project Wetsus has started a top level consortium of soil and water scientists and six companies. The project will therefore benefit from the interdisciplinary interaction between expertise on water waste engineering and soil biochemistry.

The research project is part of the Wetsus research theme Soil.

The following companies are part of the theme:

  • Agriton
  • Mulder Agro
  • Vereniging Afvalbedrijven (Dutch Waste Management Association)
  • Wetterskip Fryslan
  • Oosterhof Holman
  • Waterschap Zuiderzeeland


Promotor: Prof.dr.ir. Cees Buisman (Wageningen University, Environmental Technology).

Co-promotors: Dr.ir. Miriam van Eekert (Wageningen University, Environmental Technology)

Dr.ir. Paul Bodelier (NIOO-KNAW)

Wetsus supervisors: Dr. ir. Valentina Sechi

For more information contact dr.ir. Valentina Sechi (valentina.sechi@wetsus.nl).


More Information


You will be working in a new, innovative, dynamic, idea driven and future-directed research institute. You will be able to put your mark on the development of new water technology. In our Centre of excellence we strive for high level research projects. You will work in close collaboration with our industrial partners and also with research groups of various universities. The unique characteristic of Wetsus is the multidisciplinarity of the program.

Salary and working conditions are according to the collective labor agreement of the Cooperative Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) for PhD students. Per 1-1-2018 the salary for a PhD student as determined by the collective labor agreement are (in Euros before tax per year): €31.108 (year 1), €36.232(year 2), €37926(year 3) and €39.760 (year 4). PhD students are appointed by one of the cooperating universities but research is conducted at the Wetsus laboratory in Leeuwarden.

Eligibility criteria

  • The candidate holds a master degree in the relevant discipline (see the PhD position) or will receive this before the appointment date
  • The candidate doesn't hold a previous PhD degree
  • The ability to work in a multidisciplinary team in an international environment and to work independently
  • Strong interest in research and science
  • Excellent English communication skills, orally as well as in scientific writing
  • Preference for candidates with study experiences outside their home country

Selection process

Outstanding and highly motivated candidates are asked to provide the following information:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV specifying:

    - Doctoral study entrance qualification (name master degree)

    - List of internships (subject, name supervisor, grade, etc)

    - Publications (if applicable)

    - Scientific interest, complementary qualifications, achievements

    - Other relevant information

  • Grades (with explanation on the grading system)
  • Copy of master diploma or letter of university that master diploma will be obtained soon
  • At least one letter of recommendation and contact information of the referee(s)

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Offer Requirements

    Technology: Master Degree or equivalent
    Chemistry: Master Degree or equivalent
    ENGLISH: Excellent


We are looking for a highly motivated environmental (bio)technologist with a strong interest for (soil)microbiology and organic chemistry.The ideal candidates should be a team player with excellent communication skills.


Specific Requirements

Knowledge of complex analytical tools for organic matter and/or microbial characterization and of the basics of composting/digestion/fermentation is considered an advantage.

Work location(s)
13 position(s) available at
8911 MA
Oostergoweg 9

Open, Transparent, Merit based Recruitment procedures of Researchers (OTM-R)

Know more about it at Wetsus - European centre of excellence for sustainable water technology

Know more about OTM-R

EURAXESS offer ID: 291343


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