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PhD in integrated pest management for red clover seed crops

Project Description

​The Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University, New Zealand is offering a PhD scholarship funded jointly by the New Zealand Seed Industry Research Centre and the Manning Trust.

​This is a fantastic opportunity for a student wanting to develop skills in integrated pest management (IPM) in the context of seed production.


Insect pests, especially sucking insects (aphids and mirid bugs) and thrips (pollen feeding/seed rasping) are common problems in insect-pollinated seed crops. In red clover, the red clover casebearer moth (RCCB) is an additional serious problem with its larvae eating developing seeds. Traditional management solutions have involved using insecticides such as clorpyriphos (Lorsban) pre-flowering and lambda-cyhalothrin (Karate Zero) during flowering but when bees are not active. Both these products have broad activity on predators, parasitoids and pests. The development of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach is needed.

RCCB was first identified in NZ in 2016, but 2017 pheromone trapping revealed its distribution was widespread suggesting it was not a new incursion. AgResearch ( undertook detailed monitoring of pests, predators and parasitoids in a red clover seed field in 2018/19 and showed that there is a complex of pest issues and variable predator and parasitoid efficacy. Typical red clover seed crop spring management includes cutting for hay or balege in late November, with the aim of achieving peak flowering in late January, after many flowering crops that will compete for pollinators have finished flowering. The impact of this activity on predators, parasitoid and pest assemblages is not known.

Research aim

The aim of this PhD study is to better understand the key pest-prey life-cycles in red clover, their impact on pollinator efficiency and crop management practices with the aim of developing an IPM programme that has low insecticide inputs. It fits with current global research activity on sustainable agriculture. See:

1. Pretty, J. et al. (2018). Global assessment of agricultural system redesign for sustainable intensification. Nature Sustainability 1: 441-446. DOI: 10.1038/s41893-018-0114-0

2. Karp, D.S. et al. (2018). Crop pests and predators exhibit inconsistent responses to surrounding landscape composition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 115: E7863-E7870. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1800042115
The PhD will be run through the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University, New Zealand. Supervision will be provided by Professors John Hampton and Steve Wratten. The duration of the scholarship is three years. The successful candidate will be based at Lincoln University. Besides their own research, the PhD fellow will attend courses and workshops in relevant transferable skills such as scientific writing and project management as well as participate in our biennial Bio-Protection Conference, weekly seminar series and group meetings. The PhD student will receive individual supervision and mentoring and will be guided in her/his research work by the supervisors (Hampton, Wratten).

Applications should include evidence of qualifications and research experience, together with a curriculum vitae and contact details of two academic referees. Applications should be supported by a cover letter that states why the candidate is interested in a PhD and how their qualifications and aspirations would map onto the proposed research.

Funding Notes

The scholarship provides an annual stipend of NZ$28,000 a year tax-free, covers full university fees, and includes approximately NZ$5,000 a year towards operating expenses.

Applicants for this project are expected to have a Masters or Bachelors degree with Honours in entomology, agriculture or a related area. The position is open to applicants of any nationality, provided they are fluent in English, able to obtain a student visa, and eligible for admission to the PhD programme at Lincoln University​.

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