Public money for public goods is a common mantra within government. Proposed new agri-environment schemes are expected to move from a model of prescriptive management options to ones based on outcomes, in terms of preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, this raise questions as to how meaningful outcomes are monitored and how this relates to payments to land managers. New remote sensing technologies, including ground-based, drone and satellite sensors, have much promise for monitoring aspects of agricultural environments, including hedgerows and field margins. The project will address the research question: Can ground-based sensor, drone and satellite technology appropriately measure biodiversity proxies that are sufficient to justify public goods payments to farmers?
This interdisciplinary project will address objectives, using techniques from ecology, remote sensing and socio-economics:
O1) Systematic review of literature and use of expert interview, to identify a set of optimal, measurable and ecologically justified vegetation structure and composition proxies for key biodiversity outcomes.
O2) Assessment of remote sensing technologies, including terrestrial and mobile laser scanning, drone imaging and satellite data, for retrieval of priority proxies at whole-farm scales.
O3) Cost:benefit analysis of technologies in terms of operational deployment
within agri-environment schemes, including consideration of optimal modes of deployment and communication of results and uncertainties.
The student would be based in the Modelling, Evidence and Policy research group, giving access to a range of both low-cost and state-of-the-art sensing systems, including ground-based laser scanners and drone sensors. Training in drone operation will be provided. Skills will be developed in a variety of data processing methods (e.g. image processing, programming). Depending on student background, the student will also receive training in ecological methods and in socio-economic analysis and will engage closely with the socio-economics team at Fera.
Location: Newcastle University
How to apply:
All applications musty be submitted to Newcastle University.
Please visit the IAFRI website for further guidance: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/iafri/learning/opportunities/
To apply directly please visit: (ensuring that you note the studentship code. e.g. IAF2001) https://www.ncl.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/
This interdisciplinary project is likely to suit a student with a 1st/2.1 degree or equivalent in remote sensing, geomatics, ecology, agriculture or socio-economics related subjects. Applicants may also hold / be completing, a relevant Masters degree. Candidates with a background in physical sciences or computer science and an interest in applying these skills to ecological challenges are also encouraged to apply. Scientific programming, experience with socio-economics methods, image processing and ecological survey skills will also be viewed as advantageous. Applicants must be willing and able to carry out UK-based fieldwork and hold / obtain a full UK driving license