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IAFRI PhD Studentship: Determining the Potential of Enhanced Rock Weathering (ERW) of Rock Dust to Co-deliver for Healthy Soils and Improved Crop Protection against Pests in Temperate Agricultural System

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr Kirsty McInnes  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


UK agricultural systems are evolving to co-deliver for sustainable food production and ecosystem service provision. Adoption of holistic farming practices could help the sector transition towards sustainability. One such practice is the application of a mineral-rich by-product from the mining industry, rock dust, onto cropland.

Rock dust has shown significant promise in tropical systems at enhancing atmospheric carbon sequestration by soils and enhancing physical and biochemical crop defences against pests and disease. The ability of rock dust to supplement soil and plant health is dependent on the release of bioavailable base cations during a process known as enhanced rock weathering (ERW), the extent of which is influenced by multiple factors. In contrast to tropical systems, our knowledge of the rate of ERW on rock dust in temperate climates, and therefore the ability of rock dust to support soil health and enhance plant protection in temperate food production systems, is not well defined.

This project will investigate and compare ERW processes on a commercially available rock dust product, REMIN, within a range of soil types commonly found in UK agricultural systems. The accessibility and uptake of minerals in combinable and horticultural crops (e.g. oilseed rape, wheat, potatoes and sugar beet) will be examined, and susceptibility of these crops to attack from their main invertebrate pests along with efficiency of insect transmission of key plant viruses will be assessed. The outputs from this project will complement current research exploring the carbon sequestration potential of REMIN in temperate climates, strengthening our knowledge of the co-benefits that rock dust products could offer circular UK food production systems.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

October 2022

Award Duration

3 years


IAFRI - Fera Science Ltd & Newcastle University (School of Natural and Environmental Sciences)


Lead supervisor

Kirsty McInnes: [Email Address Removed]

Additional supervisor(s)

Larissa Collins: [Email Address Removed]

Maureen Wakefield: [Email Address Removed]

David Manning: [Email Address Removed]

Shannon Flynn: [Email Address Removed]

Eligibility Criteria

IAFRI studentships are funded jointly by Newcastle University and Fera Science Ltd. Funding will cover stipend, tuition fees and research consumables at the UK rate only. IAFRI studentships are available to both UK and international applicants. Residency rules apply. International fee rate candidates will need to cover additional costs.

We are looking for highly motivated individuals who have or are expecting to attain at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject and with experience in/an aspiration to work in or alongside industry

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system.

  • Insert the programme code 8010F in the programme of study section
  • Select ‘PhD in Agriculture and Rural Development (full time)- Agriculture’ as the programme of study
  • Insert the studentship code IAFR2205 in the studentship/partnership reference field
  • Attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code IAFR2205 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
  • Attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Contact Details

Kirsty McInnes: [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

100% of Home tuition fees paid and annual stipend of £15,609.
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