Are you interested in sustainable agricultural production or do you love growing plants or crops? If so this position could be for you. Irish ruminant animal agriculture is predominantly grassland based. However, imports of animal feedstuffs have been steadily increasing. Growing more of our own feedstuffs can help reverse this trend and provide a buffer in national feed resilience to cater for extreme weather events such as droughts or cold periods. Such events are projected to increase in frequency due to climate change. Additionally, greenhouse gas and ammonia reduction commitments along with water quality pressures have combined to drive national policy towards a reduction of fertiliser nitrogen allowances. To improve the resilience of Irish agriculture to climate shocks, to lessen dependence on fertiliser nitrogen and to stem the upward trend in imports of feed energy and protein supply, the current project will develop forage rotations. These rotations will feature high protein forage crops such as red clover silage, lucerne, arable silage with peas grown in rotation with high energy crops such as maize, rye silage and cereals along with the use of grass-clover or multispecies sward breaks. The overarching objective will be to develop new low fertiliser N native forage producing rotations that also enhance carbon sequestration by connecting the forage land with the manure return, by use of optimally reduced cultivation techniques and maintaining a year round growing crop. You will test the hypotheses that a) soil carbon stock can be maintained under a low N forage rotation and that b) low N forage rotations can provide greater nitrogen use efficiency while maintaining or increasing yield and quality compared to conventional multi-cut grass silage.
The PhD student will be part of the team in the Crops, Environment and Land Use programme under the guidance of Teagasc supervisors including Patrick Forrestal (Soils, Environment and Land Use Dept.) and Dermot Forristal (Crops Dept.). They will also have the support and guidance of Dr. Imelda Casey and her team at the South East Technical University, Waterford. The student will be based between the Teagasc Johnstown Castle Research Centre, Co. Wexford and the Teagasc Crops Research Centre, Oak Park, Co. Carlow. Some modules will be undertaken at SETU.
Applicants should hold or expect to hold a first (1.1) or upper second class honours (2.1) degree in an appropriate discipline (e.g. Agricultural Science, Crop Science, Plant Science, Agronomy, Soil Science, and Environmental Science).
They will conduct both field and laboratory work. Field sampling and laboratory experimental and analytical skills are highly desirable. A good practical knowledge of Irish agricultural production systems is essential. Applicants must be fluent in English (spoken and written) and must hold a full EU driving licence.
Knowledge & Experience
· A good practical knowledge of Irish agricultural production systems is essential. Applicants must be fluent in English (spoken and written) and must hold a full EU driving licence.
· Experience in laboratory research and/or field trials.
· Experience with statistical packages would be an advantage.
· The applicant has conducted an undergraduate research project or trial and/or has fulfilled work placements at a relevant agri-environmental research centre
Skills & Competencies
· Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.
· The applicant must be highly motivated, be able to think and work independently, and have good communication and teamwork skills.
· The applicant must have a full driving license. • Competent in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint
· Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see SETU English Language Requirements for details.
• Scientific writing skills.
• Use of referencing software and statistical packages.