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QUADRAT DTP: Optimising water saving management systems for rice grown in saline/sodic environments

Project Description

Increases in soil salinity and sodicity are major restrictions on global crop production. This scenario is only going to get worse as climate change continues to adversely affect the planet, with increasing sea levels, which will lead to flooding of low lying coastal regions as well as intrusion of sea water into aquifers.

Rice is one of the world’s most important crops and is the mainstay crop in a number of countries, including Bangladesh. However, rice is a salt sensitive crop and in regions like the Bengal delta, where sea water rise is predicted to increase significantly, rice yield can be reduced if not lost.

In addition to global issues of salinity and sodicity of soil and irrigation water, global freshwater used for irrigation is also at threat. To address this issue work has been ongoing to find water saving techniques for rice cultivation. One of these techniques is alternate wetting and drying (AWD), which can reduce water used for irrigation without decreasing yield.

This project aims to explore suitable mitigation strategies for salinity and sodicity impacts on rice growth in combination with AWD. The experiments will be conducted in controlled conditions, where a large scale AWD system has previously been used to grow plants to maturity.

Specifically the project will address;
1) Evaluate the current risk of soils to salinity / sodicity in Bangladesh.
2) Does AWD improve salinity / sodic tolerance in rice cultivars under a range of different scenarios? These scenarios will include sodic soil, saline soils, sodic irrigation water, and saline irrigation water, or combinations of these.
3) Can AWD be optimised for saline / sodic conditions?
4) Is there a combination of management techniques and cultivar selection that improves yield? Recent work has screened 250 Bangladeshi / North Indian rice cultivars for their salinity tolerance. This project will take a range of cultivars with known tolerance and sensitivity to salinity and determine if they respond in the same way under the same management conditions.
5) How does salinity mitigation through water management impact the sensitivity of rice to other abiotic stresses?

Training: During this project you will be trained on a range of experiment approaches including chemical analysis of soil and plant material, using a range of analytical techniques including inductively coupled plasma - mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS), microwave plasma - atomic emission spectroscopy (MP-AES) and atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS). You will also develop key skills in data analysis.


Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2.1 Honours degree in a relevant subject. Applicants with a minimum of a 2.2 Honours degree may be considered providing they have a Distinction at Master’s level.


• Apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
• State name of the lead supervisor as ‘Name of Proposed Supervisor’ on application
• State ‘QUADRAT DTP’ as Intended Source of Funding
• Select the ‘Visit Website’ to apply now

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NERC QUADRAT-DTP and is available to UK/EU nationals who meet the UKRI eligibility criteria. Please visit View Website for more information.

The studentship provides funding for tuition fees, stipend and a research training and support grant subject to eligibility.


Talukdar, P., Hartley, S.E., Travis, A.J., Price, A.H. & Norton, G.J. 2019, 'Genotypic differences in shoot silicon concentration and the impact on grain arsenic concentration in rice', Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, vol. 182, no. 2, pp. 265-276.

Pearson, K.A., Millar, G.M., Norton, G.J. & Price, A.H. 2018, 'Alternate wetting and drying in Bangladesh: Water saving farming practice and the socioeconomic barriers to its adoption', Food and Energy Security, vol. 7, no. 4, 00149.

Chowdhury, M.T.A., Deacon, C.M., Jones, G.D., Huq, S.M.I., Williams, P.N., Hoque, A.F.M.M., Winkel, L.H.E., Price, A.H., Norton, G.J. & Meharg, A.A. 2017, 'Arsenic in Bangladeshi soils related to physiographic region, paddy management, and mirco- and macro-elemental status', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 590-591, pp. 406-415.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 89.42

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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