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Optimising fertilizer potassium and sulphur strategies for enhanced grassland nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions

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  • Full or part time
    Dr I Casey
    Dr Patrick Forrestel
    Dr James humphreys
    Dr D Wall
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Post summary

The PhD student will work within the dynamic research teams at Water Institute of Technology, the Environment Soil and Land-use Department at Teagasc Johnstown Castle and the Animal and Grassland Department at Teagasc Moorepark. The student will spend periods for training and conducting their experiments in each place, however, they will be primarily based at Teagasc Johnstown Castle, Wexford. These multi-disciplinary teams have vast experience and publications within the fields of soil science and soil fertility, soil:plant interactions, nutrient cycling and grassland agronomy. The student will also interact with other students conducting their PhD’s at WIT and Teagasc in an open and friendly learning environment. Improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) on grassland farms through balanced soil fertility and crop nutrition is critical for achieving production, economic and environmental targets. This exciting PhD research fellowship aims to build new understanding of the effect of potassium (K) and sulphur (S) nutrition and supply on overall NUE. The successful candidate will conduct research studies to investigate the role of K and S fertiliser inputs, and their interactions with other nutrients on soil fertility, grass nutrient uptake, grass yield and quality and potential N losses from the soil. This work will be conducted as part of the larger DAFM-Research Stimulus funded Farm Sustainability Tools for Efficiency N use (FaSTEN) project which aims to provide advice to improve NUE on Irish farms. The PhD student will be supported to carry out research studies using state-of-the-art equipment, during which they will develop skills in experimental design, laboratory and field techniques, scientific data collection etc. This work will be a combination of controlled laboratory experiments and field trials with a great opportunity to design, innovative and conduct novel research in the area of soil compaction and soil quality. During this PhD, the student will also receive graduate training and will complete a number of courses tailored towards their area such as soil science, project management, experimental design, data collection and statistical analysis and scientific writing.

Standard duties and responsibilities of the scholar

• Complete a literature review on the topic
• Maintenance and monitoring of research instrumentation for taking measurements in the field trials
• Taking experimental measurements and samples, recording data and database management
• Management of experimental samples and preparation of samples for laboratory analysis
• Collation of research data and statistical analysis to produce results/outcomes
• Write up of periodic reports, scientific papers and PhD thesis

Person specification


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

Desirable: M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline

Knowledge & ExperienceEssential: Prepared for laboratory work and extended periods of field work with modern analytical equipment.
Desirable: 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 contact Dr David Wall; email: [Email Address Removed]

For queries relating to the application and admission process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions Office via email [Email Address Removed] or telephone +353 (0)51 302883.


Application procedure

Download the Research Postgraduate Application Form and return completed applications to [Email Address Removed], quoting “WD_2020_03“ in the email subject line.

Please note that paper submissions will not be accepted and also similar PhDs may be filled from this panel.

The Institute may decide to interview only those applicants who appear from the information available, to be the most suitable, in terms of experience, qualifications and other requirements of the post.

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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