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Investigating the effects of grassland sward composition (monoculture to multispecies) on soil nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas emissions

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Murphy
    Dr Helen Sheridan
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for a 4-year PhD studentship within a DAFM-funded project, FASTEN (Farm Sustainability Tools for Efficient Nutrient Management).

Research Project
The potential for more diverse grassland swards to improve the sustainability of grass-based agricultural production is an area of emerging interest and great potential impact, particularly given the dominance of grass-based agriculture in Ireland. There is a need to study the environmental sustainability of these systems under actual farming practice (rotationally grazed by bovines) and their potential role in the development of climate-smart farming. This PhD project will assess the environmental sustainability and nutrient efficiency of grass swards of differing diversity, from perennial ryegrass monoculture to multispecies swards, in terms of a range of aspects: soil fertility and nutrient management, soil quality and nutrient use efficiency, soil greenhouse gas emissions, resilience to weather events, and risk of nutrient loss to water. It will involve a combination of laboratory and field experimentation, at the newly established Long-term Grazing Platform at UCD Lyons Farm, a part of the Global Farm Platform (, and at Teagasc, Johnstown Castle.

This position will be in the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science ( and the UCD Earth Institute (, working with Dr Paul Murphy ( and Dr Helen Sheridan (, and with Dr David Wall ( in the Crops, Environment, Soil and Land-use Department of Teagasc at Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford.

Applicants should have a First or Second Class Honours degree or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (e.g. Agricultural Science, Plant Science, Soil Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry). The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for laboratory work and field work with modern analytical equipment. Field and laboratory experimental and analytical skills and experience are highly desirable. A good knowledge of grass-based production systems and nutrient management practices is desirable. The applicant should have a good working knowledge of English (spoken and written) and hold a full EU driving licence.

Further Information/Application Procedure
Contact: Dr. Paul Murphy, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland. Phone +353 (0)1 7167733. Email: [Email Address Removed]
To apply, submit an electronic copy of 1) your Curriculum Vitae (including names of two referees) and 2) a letter of motivation specific to this project to Dr. Paul Murphy: [Email Address Removed].

Closing date: Friday 6th March 2020 (17.00 hours GMT)

Funding Notes

Award and Doctoral Training
The student will be registered for a structured doctoral degree programme at UCD and the student's research, training and development will be guided by a Research Studies Panel. The student will also complete a number of advanced PhD-level modules, as well as professional training, which will benefit their future career. This PhD position is expected to start on 1st May 2020. The studentship funding is €24,000 per year, for 4 years, which covers a tax-free stipend paid monthly and the university registration fees (€6,000 per year for EU citizens, including UK citizens).

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