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Designing Crop Rotations that are Fit for Future

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, May 07, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Crop rotations have been at the centre of agricultural systems throughout history. In modern agriculture, the main purpose of rotating crops is to reduce the incidence of diseases, pests or weeds that are difficult to control with pesticides. Long-term rotational experiments allow understanding of the impacts of climate change on crop yield and quality. This project will integrate findings from long-term cropping systems trials between the partners (SRUC and NIAB), with field and farm data. This project will develop new ways of combining data and
observations from controlled plot trials, farmer surveys and on-farm monitoring. Combining datasets from long-term experiments (>10,000 crop years), established on different sites and at different times, allows us to test new hypotheses that were not the original focus of the
work. By applying new statistical approaches to integrate findings from long-term experiments, we can provide new insights into the impacts of climate and management change to support the development of new and sustainable future cropping systems. To test the overall integrative statistical approach we focus on the hypothesis that cereal yield stability and grain quality are positively influenced by a preceding legume or oilseed crop compared with a preceding cereal regardless of the diversity of the rotation. Initially the student will work closely with all partners to consolidate data from the long-term experiments (organic and conventional) and with a range of crops and tillage systems. One of the challenges is the difference in design of the experiments not only in terms of the rotation but in terms of the layout and replication. Working with BioSS, they will then deploy effective statistical approaches (including Bayesian hierarchical modelling approaches) to further describe and disentangle the causes and consequences of rotational decisions. During years 2-3, the student will use farmer surveys and simple on-farm monitoring of current rotations/management (in South West England & Eastern Scotland) to test the role of precrops in the rotation in practice. The focus will be on developing and testing the approach
2 Advert – Further Particulars – Updated 01/06/2017 (as well as the results generated) so that the overall outcome will be a toolkit of statistical approaches to underpin cropping systems research.

This student will be supervised by a team of staff from SRUC, NIAB and the University of Aberdeen. Applicants should have a BSc or MSc in statistics or an agriculture related discipline.

Funding Notes

The student will be registered at a partner university and receive an annual student stipend of £14,777 (£15,009 in 2019/20). This studentship will fund to pay the tuition fees at home fees rate only. International students must provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover the higher international student tuition fee level (approximately £16,740 per year would be required). This studentship based at SRUC, Craibstone Estate, Aberdeen with a start date in October 2019.

How good is research at SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?
(joint submission with University of Edinburgh)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 57.37

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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