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BARIToNE Project 06 - Advanced sensing technology for improving nutrient management in barley


   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr M Cutler, Dr S Hoad, Prof Bob Rees  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Principal Industrial Supervisor – Dr. Katherine Smart, Diageo

Principal Academic Supervisor – Prof. Mark Cutler, University of Dundee

Additional Supervisors – Dr. Steve Hoad & Prof. Bob Rees, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

This project will be based at the University of Dundee and the appointed student will registered at the University of Dundee as the degree awarding institution.

A priority for the barley sector – from production into the whole supply chain – is to become more efficient in use of agronomic resources. This includes reducing barley’s carbon footprint whilst maintaining productivity and product quality. This BARIToNE CTP project builds on previous research by coupling field-based crop nutrition studies with remote sensing at scales that are effective for efficient management of nutrients and fertilizers. The drive towards efficient crop nutrient use relates strongly to BARIToNE’s theme on reducing inputs, as well as supporting climate resilience.

The aim is to combine remote sensing with change in crop nutrient use to improve nutrient utilization and efficiency in barley. This includes managing nitrogen fertilizer more effectively in crops destined for different markets such as malting, and to make more efficient use of soil derived nutrients, including better fertilizer recovery and less waste, by frequent monitoring of crop nutrient status. The experimental hypothesis states that remotely sensed spectral responses can detect change in crop nutrient demand with sufficient precision to improve nutrient application, resulting in better nutrient capture and reduced loss or waste. 

In framing field experiments, the student will identify research questions in three key areas: 

(1) scope for reducing inputs, and reducing waste and loses, (2) strategies to manage nutrients and fertilizers more efficiently and (3) working towards ‘just-in-time’ management of fertilizer, with replenishment as demanded by the crop. Links to industry and wider application include: (a) developing crop management for local growing conditions and needs, (b) advice on growing barley in more challenging, and changing environments, including marginal soils and (c) scope for use of advanced technologies and nutrient studies in crop genetic improvement. 

Project resources include remote sensing and crop nutrient study at multiple sites (including JHI’s Balruddery Farm and SRUC’s barley trials in East and Mid Lothian centres, as well as controlled environment facilities), expertise in hyperspectral reflectance and fluorescence data analysis, support from recent research on advanced technology for efficient crop production, and use of Agrecalc – a tool for carbon foot-printing. Throughout the research programme, the student will have opportunity to engage with a broader programme of strategic research in advanced agronomic techniques and crop resource use, including Scottish Government funded research on crop improvement and climate change.

This research project will be conducted in partnership with Diageo and will offer the opportunity to gain valuable industrial experience during a hosted placement within a Technical Division of the company, as well as undertaking an industrially relevant qualification.

If you would like to discuss this project in more detail, please contact Prof. Mark Cutler for more information

How to Apply

Please visit the main BARIToNE programme page for more details


Funding Notes

Studentship will cover a full UKRI stipend (currently £15,609/annum) tuition fees, training and travel budget. Part-time study is an option (please indicate on your application) and we offer enhanced support to individuals with primary care responsibilities or disabilities.
Applications are welcome from all nationalities, however the proportion of international students appointed through the BARIToNE CTP is capped at 30% (see the Training Grant T&C's for more information). Applicants are expected to hold (about to achieve) at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or demonstrable equivalent experience) in a relevant subject (e.g. Biology, Genetics, Plant Sciences, Ecology, Soil Science, Computer Sciences etc.).
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