Namedr. M Derks

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DescriptionUniversitair docent
OrganizationDepartment of Plant Sciences
Organization UnitAgricultural Biosystems Engineering
Phone+31 317 488 294
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Visiting addressDroevendaalsesteeg 1
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I am an assistant professor in the Farm Technology Group working on design. In 2010 I graduated from Utrecht University as farm animal veterinarian, and afterwards was appointed at the farm animal husbandry department to do a PhD on economic benefits of veterinary advice on dairy farms. In 2014, I started a postdoc in France and Sweden on modeling fertility in dairy cows using progesterone profiles.

Since 2017 I have been employed at FTE. Next to research on design in different agricultural systems, both applied and more methodological, I also supervise BSc and MSc students and PhDs, and teach different courses

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Connected cirularity: ensuring product quality and safety

In a system that is changing from linear to more circular processes, it is of utmost importance to not only regard the potential for more economic resource use and greenhouse gas reduction, but also to ensure safety and quality aspects. Issues regarding safety include chemical, physical and biological hazards. Within this project a semi-quantitative safety assessment tool will be developed and applied to the flow of hazards in the circular scenario. High risk processes in the circular scenario will be restricted or, in case these are highly important processes in the system, the process itself and correlated/related processes will be redesigned to diminish the risks.

Regenerative Farming

The Dutch agricultural sector faces a number of challenges in order to meet broadly committed long-term objectives (as also stated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals): a situation with zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (based on the Paris climate agreement; COP21), and circular and regenerative use of nutrients and soil (based on the objectives of the 'Food & Biomass' transition team of the raw materials agreement). A consequence of these agreements is the need to create a new, circular and regenerative agricultural system. Regenerative agriculture is herein defined as agriculture in which there is a neutral or positive balance between utilization of and return to the ecosystem (soil, water, biodiversity) for the production of food and biomass.

The aim of this project is to develop a substantiated situation sketch for 2050 for the land-bound agricultural sectors in the Netherlands, with a focus on arable farming and dairy farming. By means of a proof of principle it is shown that broad application of circular and regenerative agriculture via different pathways is possible and that changes are essential to achieve the desired situation in 2050. 

Smart Indonesian Agriculture

This programme aims to introduce and expand SMART farming techniques in Indonesian agriculture, more specifically fish and dairy production, and to increase the capacity of Indonesian research institutes to study, develop and implement SMART farming applications.

To ensure that the knowledge created can be used beyond this programme, the aim is to build and implement systems that will prove to be sustainable after this programme ends. Five steps are identified to reach this goal:

  1. Technologies such as sensors, information and communication technology (ICT), global position system (GPS), internet of thinks (IoT), management information systems (MIS) and cloud computing will be combined to collect, store and analyse data from fish and dairy farms.
  2. A cohort study will be set up to identify current practices and risk factors for production loss or inefficiency. 
  3. Software that can be used by farmers to support their daily farming routines is tested in field conditions. 
  4. Uptake of the innovations is crucial for long term effectiveness. Therefore, this programme invests in analysing the production system and its dynamics, together with farmers’ ability and willingness to adopt innovations. 
  5. The impact of improving production efficiency on farmers, communities and regions will be modelled from an economic and environmental perspective.


  • FTE-12803 - Introduction Biosystems Engineering part 2
  • FTE-24806 - Engineering Design
  • FTE-25806 - Research Methods Biosystems Engineering
  • FTE-33806 - Biosystems Design
  • FTE-79224 - MSc Research Practice Agricultural Biosystems Engineering
  • FTE-79324 - MSc Research Practice Agricultural Biosystems Engineering
  • FTE-80424 - MSc Thesis Agricultural Biosystems Engineering
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