Traditional pastoral grazing systems in New Zealand are under increasing scrutiny regarding their potential influence on the environment. Regenerative Agriculture systems are promoted as a potential solution. In addition, diverse sward mixes containing more than 10 species have been suggested as a management solution to improve animal productivity and reduce environmental footprint. To scientifically evaluate these opportunities, a long-term sheep farmlet study is underway at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. It involves four treatment groups including: i) perennial ryegrass/white clover sward under conventional management; ii) a diverse pasture sward under regenerative management; iii) perennial ryegrass/white clover sward under regenerative management; and iv) a diverse pasture sward under conventional management. This three-year PhD programme will measure annual ewe and lamb productivity, along with pasture production and quality. Measurements will include, but are not limited to, ewe live weights, body condition scores and reproductive performance, and lamb live weights and performance to weaning. Sheep herbage preference by species and season will also be evaluated, along with sward productivity in terms of growth rates, herbage quality, and botanical composition. Additional investigations of either sheep or herbage performance could be added, based on the skill sets of the successful candidate.
The PhD programme includes an annual stipend of NZ$30,000 in addition to covering student fees. The programme is suited for a candidate with an Honours or Masters qualification in either Animal Science or Agronomy or related disciplines. The aim is to have the successful candidate on site by June 2023.
Contact: Professor Danny Donaghy
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