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Development of low nitrogen input forage rotations to lessen imported feed dependence, climate shock vulnerability and to sequester carbon

   Research Support Unit

   Thursday, September 01, 2022  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Post summary

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. 

Person specification



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.

Funding Notes

Supervisor(s): Dr. Imelda Casey (SETU) Dr. Pat Forrestal Teagasc Johnstown Castle Co. Wexford. Dr. Dermot Forristal Teagasc Oakpark Carlow Ireland
Research Group: Eco-innovation research centre
Department: Department of Land Sciences, School of Science
Duration :48 months
Status: Full-time : Full time
Funding information: Teagasc Walsh Scholarship
Value of the scholarship per year for four years Stipend: €19,500 per annum for four years Fees €4,500 per annum for four years
Teaching requirement: None
Closing date and time 1st Sept 2022 at 4PM Irish Time
Interview date :TBC
PhD commencement date: Oct 2022


Further information
For any informal queries, please contact Dr. Imelda Casey on email imelda.casey@setu.ie
For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email rpgadmissions.wd@setu.ie or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.
University Website https://www.setu.ie/
Application procedure
Download the Research Postgraduate Application Form and return completed applications to rpgadmissions.wd@setu.ie quoting WD_2021_18_SPONS in the email subject line.
Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted.

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