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Lowering the carbon footprint of pasture-based dairy production

  • Full or part time
    Dr I Casey
    Dr James humphreys
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, January 06, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Post summary

Agriculture in Ireland is an important source of greenhouse gas (GHG). Ireland is obligated to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture by 2030 with a target reduction of 10% below current levels. The dairy sector in Ireland accounts for around 15% of national GHG emissions. Most (>80%) GHG emissions are generated within the farm gate. There are substantial possibilities for lowering GHG emissions from dairy farms while maintaining profitability. We have designed a system of milk production with the potential to halve the carbon footprint of milk production. The big question is how well does this dairy system compare with existing systems of milk production in terms of productivity and profitability? Two dairy systems will be established: (i) represents current practice (control) and (ii) represents where all best practices for lowering the CF of milk are implemented simultaneously. This system will consist of 24 of the most efficient dairy cows with high yield of milk solids and low replacement rate on permanent grassland reliant on biological N fixation associated with white clover, low concentrate input associated with efficient utilization of grazed grass over an extended grazing season. The carbon footprint of both systems will be determined using life cycle assessment. Nitrous oxide emissions will be measured and modelled. Changes in soil carbon storage will be measured and modelled. The economic performance of both systems will be evaluated.This PhD Fellowship is collaboration between the Department of Science, Waterford Institute of Technology and Teagasc, Moorepark and Johnstown Castle.The student will be based at the Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre at Moorepark (near Fermoy).

Standard duties and responsibilities of the scholar

• Complete a literature review on the topic
• Maintenance and monitoring of research instrumentation for measurement of nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions from grassland.
• Experimental recording and database management
• Preparation of samples and sending samples to Teagasc laboratories
• Collation of results
• Write up scientific papers and PhD thesis

Person specification



Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or 2.1 Honours) in an appropriate discipline (Agricultural Science, Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, etc.).


M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline

Knowledge & Experience


Prepared for laboratory work and extended periods of field work with modern analytical equipment.


Experience of measurement of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms. Assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms using modelling techniques

Skills & Competencies


• Highly motivated, demonstrated initiative, disciplined work ethic and ability to work within a multi-disciplinary project team to achieve results
• Full Irish/European driving license
• Applicants whose first language is not English must submit evidence of competency in English, please see WIT’s English Language Requirements for details.


• Journal conference workshop publications writing and submission experience

Further information

For any informal queries, please contactDr James Humphreys; email:
For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.

Application procedure

Download the Research Postgraduate Application Form and return completed applications to , quoting WD_2019_38 in the email subject line.

Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted

Funding Notes

This is a 4 year full-time programme

The value of the scholarship is as follows:

Stipend: €18,500 per annum for 4 years
Fees: €4,500 per annum for 4 years

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