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Growing new commercial crops on the Island of Ireland to diversify farming and add value


   School of Biological Sciences

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  Prof B Green, Dr Lisa Black  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This three-year PhD will optimise the cultivation of novel commercial crops, not previously been grown on the Island of Ireland. It will evaluate the impact of crop varieties and their management on the yield of bioactive compounds.

This proposed PhD project intends to optimise the cultivation of novel commercial crops, many of which have not previously been grown on the island of Ireland, by evaluating the impact of varieties and crop management regimes on the yield of bioactive compounds. It represents a new collaboration between QUB and AFBI, who will also work in partnership with a recent QUB spin-out company called Aramune Technologies Limited (ATL). The information acquired during the project will assist ATL to: 1) increase production of their primary product called AramuneTM, and 2) acquire new raw materials for their second-generation of products. We anticipate that the successful completion of the project will benefit local arable farmers and animal feed producers. The main objectives of the project are to:

• Select a sub-set of up to 5 varieties from two proprietary plant families most suited for growth in NI.

• Perform a survey of current agronomical practices used to grow the two crop types to determine most appropriate treatments in agronomy field trials.

• Perform variety x agronomy field trials to evaluate the performance of pre-selected species and varieties from plant families in different soils in NI under different management regimes.

• Trials will be conducted in up to 3 locations across NI for 2 growing seasons. Up to 5 varieties for both crops will be tested in trials where N and agro-chemicals will be evaluated for their impact on crop performance and yield of bioactive compounds.

• Evaluate where the aforementioned crops fit within different farming systems/crop-rotations.

• Formulate advice/guidance for farmers to assist them with their growing of the crops.

• Extract and evaluate the yield of proprietary/patented bioactive compounds in each crop grown and determine the optimal harvesting periods, plant parts.

• Confirm the bioactivity of extracts from each crop/plant part.

• Evaluate alternative practical uses of the ‘waste’ materials produced following the extraction of the bioactive from the plant.

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Duration: 3 years

How to apply: Applications must be submitted via https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php

Skills/experience required: We are seeking a candidate with strong interests in agronomy, plant biology, arable farming, or the production of bioactive compounds in plants. We particularly welcome candidates who envisage taking up a career in this area of the bio-economy. Candidate with hands-on experience of plant/crop sewing (field or glass house) would be extremely welcome.

Note: This project is in competition for DfE funding with a number of other projects. A selection process will determine the strongest candidates across the range of projects, who may then be offered funding for their chosen project.


Funding Notes

Candidates must hold the equivalent of a UK 2.1 Bachelor's degree or qualifications considered to be equivalent by the University.
Candidates must also be normally resident in the UK for the three year period prior to 1 October 2022. For non-EU nationals, the main purpose of residence must not have been to receive full-time education. Non-UK or Irish nationals must also have pre-settled or settled status (EU nationals) or settled status (non-EU nationals).
Full eligibility criteria: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/Postgraduate-studentships-terms-and-conditions.pdf
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