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EASTBIO Improving nutrient cycling for a sustainable bioeconomy: reconnecting crops and livestock


PHD Opportunities

About the Project

Intensification of agricultural systems has led to crop and livestock production becoming decoupled, and this decoupling is contributing to the wicked challenges of climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity. It is therefore imperative that these challenges are addressed in order to improve the environmental and economic sustainability and resilience of UK farming. It is hypothesised that integrated mixed farming systems have increased resilience and climate adaptation potential, with a more integral coupling of nutrients and carbon cycles, a diversified ecosystems service delivery and a better 3-dimentional utilization of resources. Adopting a holistic perspective, efficiency is defined as the ability to simultaneously increase production, decrease input use, and reduce negative environmental and social impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions. SAOS (https://saos.coop/) are currently working with the farming community to establish the linkages between upland suckler farms with lowland arable farms. This brings added benefit in terms of increasing the stocking levels in the upland farm, increasing pasture utilisation and return of excreta to the arable farms. However, it also brings potential disbenefits in terms of greenhouse gas associated with enteric fermentation in ruminants and additional need for land to provide feed for livestock. Based on indicators collected from the case study, the student will quantitatively and qualitatively analyse the ecosystems services arising from the integration. Thus, the PhD project, through modelling, will allow a more in-depth systems level assessment of the benefits and disbenefits of such systems, and the trade-offs that may occur between the multifunctional products provided by mixed farming systems and the impacts of livestock on the environment. The PhD project is linked to the EU funded project MIXED (grant agreement No 862357).
The student will gain skills in understanding agricultural systems, data handling, statistical and modelling techniques that are applicable to integration of environmental and economic factors. They will also gain experience of how large, inter- and trans-disciplinary projects work. Working with SAOS, the student will also gain experience in applying the science in practice and being directly involved in Knowledge Exchange events.
For informal enquiries please contact Dr Kairsty Topp () or Prof Christine Watson ()
Degree Requirements:
Applicants should possess (or expect to possess) a good degree in agriculture or biological sciences.
Applicants should download the required forms from http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0 and send the following documents to :
a. EASTBIO Application Form
b. EASTBIO DTP Equality Form
c. CV
d. Academic transcripts (a minimum of an upper second class or first class honours degree or equivalent is required for PhD study
e. Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form (http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0). Please advise your referees to return the reference form to .
f. If you are nominated by the supervisor(s) of the EASTBIO PhD project you wish to apply for, they will provide a Supervisor Support Statement.



Funding Notes

This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership View Website. This opportunity is open to UK and International students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition (Please state if your institution will provide funding to cover the difference in fees). Please refer to UKRI website and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria.

References

Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form (http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0). Please advise your referees to return the reference form to pg.research@sruc.ac.uk.

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