Who am I?

Soil scientist: Graduated from Wageningen University with a degree in tropical soil science. I am still not sure how I ended up choosing tropical soil science as a career. Collecting stones at high school and going with my parents to the French Auvergne on our Holiday  certainly helped. My continuous interest in the environment around me also played an important role. Traveling through the Netherlands and seeing the landscape change was a constant mystery to me. I wanted to understand why things were the way they were. Besides this scientific interest, I liked the more applied oriented study program in Wageningen. Just before my move to Wageningen I visited my family in New Zealand and Australia. Fantastic to look around on a different continent and to work on their farms. It triggered my interest to look outside Europe.

Associated professor Land Dynamics: As an associated professor in the Land Dynamics Group of Wageningen University, my research focuses on four main topics:

1.       Integrated assessment of agricultural systems: Agricultural systems are highly complex systems that vary widely in space and time. As scientist we try to understand these systems and describe them in simulation models. These simulation models can be used for scenario analysis to evaluate the potential of new technologies or policies.

2.       Soil fertility research: Starting from an assessment of soil nutrient depletion in sub-Saharan Africa in the early 90ís, soil fertility remained of interest to me. I measured soil nutrient balances in Ivory Coast and continued to work with the Nutmon toolbox in African farming systems.

3.       Digital soil mapping: In several projects there was a need for soil information. In some cases, traditional soil surveying techniques were used. In other cases this was practically impossible. We therefore started to explore the possibility to apply digital soil mapping. In some cases, it proved to be an excellent tool, in other cases the results were rather disappointing. Despite the disappointments it was interesting enough to pursue this line of research in the future.

4.       Precision agriculture: How can we increase the efficiency of modern production systems? A possible answer to this question is to increase the efficiency of the farming system in space and time through precision agriculture. The Costa Rican banana system proved to be an excellent case to implement precision agriculture with large plantations and sufficient soil variation. In addition, there is significant pressure on the producers to improve their farming system.

Member of the Young Academy: The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences is constantly seeking ways to involve young scientists in its work. With that aim in mind, it set up 'The Young Academy' (DJA, De Jonge Akademie) in 2005. I was proudly selected to be member of The Young Academy to jointly think about Science and Society, Interdisciplinary Research, and Science and policy.

Runner:    Since high school I have always enjoyed running. Only recently I took up serious running. This year I finished my 10th marathon. The marathon is my ultimate challenge to really deplete your energy levels and still be able to keep going. My favorite marathon is the midwintermarathon due to the natural character of its course and the harsh conditions.

Rower:    As soon as I moved to Wageningen in 1983, I started rowing. I had a fantastic three years rowing competitively at the WSR-Argo with 8 blikken (i.e., first place medals). After returning to Wageningen in 1996 I took up rowing again, now at WSV-Vada. It remains a fantastic feeling to row.