Serving as a full professor of Biosystems Engineering at Wageningen University & Research I am passionate about investigating and developing technology that interacts with nature in the context of agri-food production. Technology has played a crucial role in agriculture since its very beginning and novel technologies will definitely be needed to guarantee sustainable agricultural production of food, feed, fibres, fuels etc. for generations to come.
When it comes to application domains within the agri-food chain, I do not have a specific preference for individual domains like arable farming, protected cultivation or livestock. Being a systems thinker, I prefer to think in terms of similarities rather than differences between these application domains. The systems approach allows me to think in terms of generic technical concepts or capabilities shared by all these application domains. This systems approach also opens doors to completely different application domains and associated technologies that act as a great source of inspiration. For me a project is successful once technology has been tested in a practical environment up to proof of principle level, that means Technology Readiness Levels 5 to 6. For sure, when it comes to details, implementations of technology in products will differ. That is a key aspect of product development. I leave that to industry.
In 1987 I completed a MSc in Agricultural Sciences with honours (cum laude) at Wageningen University, followed in 1994 by a PhD in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University with a thesis entitled Greenhouse climate management: an optimal control approach. After a career within the contract research organization of Wageningen University & Research, I continued my career in academia in 2005 as head of the Farm Technology Group within Wageningen University. Research output includes (co-)authorship of 1 book, 3 book chapters and more than 140 papers in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings. So far, they yielded an h-index of 18 in Web of Science, 22 in Scopus and 30 in Google Scholar. Besides being a member of the editorial boards of Biosystems Engineering, Computers and Electronics in Agriculture and International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, I serve as a co-chair of the Technical Committee on Agricultural Robotics of euRobotics and as a co-chair of IEEE-RAS Special Interest Group on Agricultural Robotics and Automation.