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Pears In The Ecotron

Kunnen we in 2040 nog peren telen in Limburg?

11 September 2023
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A new PhD student joins the Ecotron Team

01 August 2023

New student joins Ecotron team

29 June 2023

Ecotron mission

Our mission is assessment and counteracting climate change mechanisms.

Our work is framed across five pillars:

  1. Fundamental understanding of ecosystem functioning and impacts of climate change thereon

  2. Understanding interactions of climate change with other environmental drivers

  3. Testing new technologies to adapt to climate change

  4. Development of land management pathways to counteract climate change

  5. Public education and raising awareness of biodiversity and environmental change


The Ecotron is part of the Field Research Centre, located in the Hoge Kempen National Park. The UHasselt Ecotron is a large scale research infrastructure that allows for sophisticated state-of-the-art controlled climate experiments, to study the effects of climate, and climate change on ecosystem functioning. It provides insight into the impact of climate on a given ecosystem that cannot be gained by field experiments (too complex) neither controlled laboratory experiments (too reductive).

The UHasselt Ecotron consists of 12 closed sun-lit units, where environmental conditions can be separately controlled. Each unit hosts a lysimeter with soil-canopy column of 3.14 m2 and 1.5 m deep, where ecosystem processes can be monitored all in real time.

  • The following variables can be controlled: air temperature, air relative humidity, air CO2 concentration, precipitation, soil water tension, and soil temperature.
  • The following variables are monitored every 1 to 30 min: air CH4 and N2O concentrations, air pressure, net radiation, photosynthetically active radiation, soil electrical conductivity, soil water content, soil weight, and soil leachate weight.
  • All soil parameters are measured at 15 positions: 5 depths (10, 20, 35, 60, 140 cm) and at 3 spatial positions per depth.
  • Additionally, suction cups are sampling soil water at the same 15 positions per unit.

From these variables, net ecosystem exchange, evapotranspiration, as well as CH4 or N2O emissions can be calculated with high resolution and frequency.

Geheel Blokbeeld

Science at the Ecotron

For researchers, companies and other stakeholders, we offer the opportunity to conduct a project in our long-term Ecotron experiments.

Click here to learn more about the climate change scenarios and ecosystem functioning assessments in the Ecotron.

Click here to learn about the connection between Ecotron and ICOS.

Ecotron for public

Visitors can make use of a matching observation tower located next to the Ecotron, the Tronton, which makes it possible to take a look through the domes of the Ecotron. Two outdoor classrooms have been set up in the vicinity of the Ecotron where the educational programs Ecotron Mystery and Ecotron Behind the Scenes take place. In the publicly accessible area of ​​the Ecotron, there is an exhibition, including an experience stand with smartboard (in collaboration with Jo Klaps of the Department of Architecture and Art of Hasselt University).

Would you like to visit the Ecotron? This is possible under the supervision of a Ranger of the Hoge Kempen National Park. Please contact Dr. Hanne Vercampt (hanne.vercampt<at>uhasselt<dot>be)

Support Ecotron Research

As a company or individual you can support our research for sustainability. Click here to donate to the Ecotron fond.


Prof. dr. Nadia Soudzilovskaia

Nadia Ecotron Photo (1)
Head of the Ecotron | Lead Ecotron Research Team

Prof. dr. Francois Rineau

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Senior researcher | Manager of the Ecotron Research

Prof. dr. Natalie Beenaerts

Natalie Beenaerts (1)
Head of the Hasselt University Field Research Center

dr. Hanne Vercampt

Hanne Vercampt 15
Scientific communication and education manager

Kristof Grosjean

Kristof (1)
Senior technical manager Ecotron

Xander Swinnen

Technical manager | IT specialist Ecotron

PhD students

  • Maria Moreno-Druet
  • René C. Shaeffer
  • Elena Abbatangelo
  • Nier Su

BSc students

  • Wout Guedens
  • Kasper Verhaeghe
  • Imke Tomsin
  • Frederique Kloosterman

MSc students

  • Tjaling Rook
  • Inge van Frankenhuijzen

How to get there

Postal address of Ecotron and of Field Research Centre of UHasselt: Zetellaan 52, 3630 Maasmechelen (Belgium)

Driving directions: GPS Coordinates: Latitude 51.0000457 Longitude 5.7042895. 

The Ecotron and Field Research Centre (FRC) of UHasselt are located at Terhills, the main gate of the National Park Hoge Kempen. To reach it, take exit 33 on the E314 highway (Brussels - Aachen) and follow the signs ‘Maasmechelen Leisure Valley’ on a route that follows the canal for some kilometers. Keep following this road across tree roundabouts until the signs 'PARKING EUROSCOOP' and 'TERHILLS' indicate the parking lot. Continue the rest of the way (300m) walking through the French Garden.  You'll find the Field Research Centre on your left side. The Ecotron facility is located directly behind the Field Research Center. Offices of the Ecotron researchers and technicians are located in the Field Research Center."

Jobs and internships

Below you can find currently open positions at the Ecotron and field research center. However, we are also open for new ideas for MSc/BSc projects and we welcome PhD and postdoc students interested to obtain own funding.

  • Obtaining your own PhD or postdoc funding: graduating PhD and MSc students with an idea for a research in the fields of climate change, biodiversity, soil biota and biogeochemical cycles (experimental, observative, modelling or global scale study) are welcome to contact our team. We will help you to develop a competitive application for PhD or a postdoc funding for Flemish research council (FWO) programs or international funds, including Marie-Curie and Chinese scholarship council (CSC). We are especially eager to support application to work at our Ecotron QPear project.
  • MSc and BSc projects are available in the fields of soil biota, vegetation functioning and mycorrhiza.

Contacts and collaborations

General Inquiries Contact: CMK

Partners interested in collaborative projects with Ecotron or LTER, including scientists, prospective PhD candidates, BSc and MSc students

Journalists interested in Ecotron Research

Questions related to the Field Research Centre

Support our climate change research

Visiting Ecotron for public (groups and individuals)

Telephone Ecotron Facility: +32 489 34 04 21