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Net Zero crops: Mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from linseed (PhD)

   School of Water, Energy and Environment (SWEE)

About the Project

Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, largely driven by fertiliser applications. This includes the production of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas (GHG) approximately 300 times more powerful at driving climate warming than carbon dioxide over 100 years. Addressing this challenge requires optimisation of fertiliser management for individual crops, but also an understanding of the underlying processes.

Linseed is emerging as a popular replacement for oilseed rape (OSR), which is currently suffering from declining yields and therefore profits. Linseed has a growing market for human and animal consumption, primarily because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids. It thus currently has a high commercial value (£400-£500 per ton). This has led to a doubling of the area under cultivation in the UK in 2020 (33,000 ha). Moreover, compared to OSR, linseed generally requires lower fertiliser inputs (80–130 kg N ha-1 versus 125-280 kg N ha-1). Lower soil nitrogen inputs reduce soil nitrous oxide production, thereby potentially improving agricultural sustainability and contributing to UK net-zero targets and the 25-year environment plan.

This project will address this challenge through measuring differences in GHG emissions, crop physiology, and soil processes between contrasting linseed varieties under a range of management practices. It will make use of measurements in field trials, as well as laboratory studies allowing further experiments on the underlying mechanisms to be conducted under highly controlled conditions, before integrating both through modelling. This will ultimately allow the identification of both best management practices for linseed, but also ultimately the identification of specific crop traits that might underpin the future development of Net Zero varieties for linseed. 

The successful student will receive training in a range of field, glasshouse and laboratory techniques, and modelling from an experienced supervisory team. The student will also have the option to undertake a placement with the project sponsor (Premium Crops), and present findings at national and international conferences.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline, such as biology, plant sciences, chemistry, agricultural or environmental sciences.


1st Supervisor: Dr Nick Girkin   

2nd supervisor: Dr Alice Johnston

3rd Supervisor: Dr Zoltan Kevei

How to apply

For further information please contact: ;

Name: Dr Nick Girkin; Dr Alice Johnston; Dr Zoltan Kevei

T: (0) 1234 750111

Academic profile link:  https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/people/dr-nick-girkin-26264651

If you are eligible to apply for this studentship, please complete the online application form.

Funding Notes

Sponsored by the Cranfield Industrial PhD Partnership and Premium Crops, this fully-funded studentship will provide an annual bursary of up to £16,000 plus cover fees for three years.
To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be UK nationals. Due to funding restrictions, all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

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