The global challenge of food security is to balance increased agricultural production with environmental concerns and climate resilience. Unravelling these grand challenges necessitates an understanding of constraints, synergies and trade-offs in crop production at different spatio-temporal scales. Crop monitoring and modelling have played a crucial role in our understanding of this triple challenge, for example through the analysis of crop yield gaps and climate vulnerability of particular regions. Much less understood are the often devastating impacts of extreme weather events that can be attributed to climate change.
Soil has an important capacity to regulate water supply, and may help crop resilience to climate extremes. Extreme weather impacts of both excess rainfall and drought could be buffered with increased soil water retention capacity to govern the dynamics between runoff, infiltration, storage, evapotranspiration, drainage and percolation. Improved knowledge of soil-crop interactions enables more accurate simulations of crop growth dynamics and yields across a wide range of environments, and in turn may further contribute to improved knowledge of soil and crop processes, including crop yield, carbon and nitrogen dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions.
Digital agriculture is known to boost knowledge and yields, reduce inputs and investment and increase resilience to risks such as changing weather and price volatility. Characterisation of different events that influence the soil-crop interaction during crop growth development can be achieved through data mining of remote sensing images that have become available at unprecedented temporal, spatial and spectral scales with the advent of Europe’s Copernicus program of Earth observation. The research hypothesis is that soil characteristics, major field operations and crop development can be detected across a regional scale, and that these inputs can improve the quantification of soil-crop processes to elucidate climate resilience in terms of combined adaptation and mitigation measures.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.
• Collaborations
Possible collaborations are envisaged with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of BioScience Engineering, University of Leuven.

• Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.

Contact details:

• Deadline MSCA-IF 2020
Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.


We invite applicants to propose a more detailed and focused research approach within the scope of this MSCA-IF Fellowship as a part of their application. We are primarily looking for experienced researchers who wish to use this period as an opportunity to further develop their research, and to develop longer-term research collaborations with VITO and other institutions conducting research in the field.
The candidates as in principle must be eligible for a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship – please refer to the conditions set-out in the H2020 MSCA Work Programme.

The following assets will be advantageous:

  • An excellent track record in research, necessary for being able to develop a competitive Marie Curie Fellowship application;
  • A PhD degree related to bioscience engineering, agronomy or environmental sciences;
  • Good writing and presentation skills as proven by a publication record in SCI journals;
  • Expertise in remote sensing, geo-informatics, statistics and modelling, and good programming skills in R;
  • An open and cooperation-oriented nature, but with strong abilities for independent research work;
  • highly proficient in spoken and written English.



Initially, we offer assistance in developing competitive Marie Curie Individual Fellowship proposals.


To successful applicants to the Marie Curie program, we offer:

  • An exciting opportunity at VITO, the independent Flemish research organisation in the area of cleantech and sustainable development. Our goal? To accelerate the transition to a sustainable world;
  • Participation in a dynamic professional research & innovation community;
  • Flexible working conditions;
  • An inclusive and friendly work environment;
  • On-boarding assistance and other services