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Agronomist for the development of management tools for oil palm nutrition M/F

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CIRAD, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development, works with its partners in southern countries to generate and pass on new knowledge to support agricultural development and innovation.

It has one main objective: to build sustainable farming systems for tropical and Mediterranean regions capable of feeding ten billion human beings by 2050 while preserving the environment.  



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Science - Agricultural sciences



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Agronomist for the development of management tools for oil palm nutrition M/F

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Job description

The ABSys Joint Research Unit works on tropical perennial crops (coffee, cocoa, rubber trees, oil palm) in an ecological intensification approach, by designing technical itineraries that allow producers to reconcile the objectives of economic profitability with environmental protection and biodiversity.
For the oil palm plantations, one of the major challenges of this ecological intensification is the management of the plant's nutrition with practices other than merely mineral fertilisation. The ABSys Joint Research Unit has developed mineral fertilisation management tools for oil palm estates, based in particular on the foliar diagnosis metfod (FD). The aim now is to develop decision-making tools (DMT) that can also help steer practices based on the recycling of organic products or land cover management. They should help respond to the needs of estatemanagers as well as smallholders.
The work to be carried out is organised along 3 axis: 1) formalisation of the know-how and knowledge gained through expertise in FD on the connections between oil palm nutrition and productivity; 2) consideration of alternative or complementary practices to mineral fertilisation to improve productivity, but also other ecosystem services or dis-services; 3) design of DMTs adapted to the specific characteristics of smallholders (management of less standardised fertilisation; difficult access to field data).
From a methodological perspective, the unique nature of the work to be carried out lies in the integration of various sources of information to develop DMTs that respond to these oil palm nutrition management issues. These various sources include: i) the know-how of experts who use FD; ii) existing databases to be used, featuring fertilisation trials which have been monitored for many years; iii) more recent knowledge and tools developed by the researchers from our Joint Research Unit with regard to the functioning and quality of soil (Biofunctool ® method) in plantations and the nitrogen cycle (IN-Palm indicator); iv)crop models (such as APSIM-oil palm) and more mechanistic ecophysiological models (Ecopalm) developed by CIRAD.
The use of digital farming technologies should also be envisaged, in particular for DMTs intended for oil palm estates, in keeping with a precision farming approach. For smallholders, consideration must be given to DMT methodologies adapted to the variability and complexity of the agronomic situations, as well as access to data from small producers.
The position is based in France with regular assignments in Southeast Asia and West Africa. Expatriation in a tropical country is envisaged in the medium term.

Desired profiled

Desired education:
• MsC in agronomy or agricultural sciences with training or experience in the development of decision-making tools (preferably in crop productions)
• PhD holders may also be considered for this position
Main thematic expertise required for the position:
• Expertise in digital technologies applied to agricultural sciences
• Expertise in database processing and statistics (preferably using R software)
• Training or experience in the use of crop models is desirable
• Good knowledge of systemic agronomy and crop productions (soil and plant functioning)
• Ability to organise field activities and collect data in tropical environments
Other skills required:
• Good command of English (B1-B2 level) and French
• Ability to work in a team and in multicultural contexts
• Aptitude and enthusiasm for field experiments
• Interest in working abroad in a tropical environment

Position constraints

Work at a computer screen work for more than 4 hours

Frequent travel in France and abroad

Work in tropical/humid/subtropical areas

Socio-professional category


Salaire base France, hors indemnités d'expatriation le cas échéant

27-37 K€


Job location



France avec missions régulières en Asie du Sud-Est et Afrique de l'Ouest essentiellement (durée cumulée de 1 à 2 mois/an). Une expatriation dans un pays tropical pourrait avoir lieu à moyen terme.

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