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Regenerative agriculture – fix or fiction for soil health?

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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  Prof Elizabeth Baggs, Prof Jonathan Hillier  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Regenerative agriculture is attracting a lot of attention as an approach to fix our food system through restoring soil health and reversing biodiversity loss through a combination of sustainable intensification and agroecology. This is often linked to targets for net zero carbon emissions, but to be a viable option there needs to be broader consideration in terms of agronomic sustainability and local contexts. Whilst common practices under the banner of regenerative agriculture have been around for a long time within good agricultural management, what is missing is direct evidence of the benefits to soil health across different local contexts, meaningful indicators and assessment of trade-offs to help inform decision making. 

This project will assess soil nutrient budgets, soil structure, soil organic matter content and establish links to microbial diversity across a range of practices that fall under the banner of regenerative agriculture including agronomic practices integral to conventional and organic farming, conservation agriculture, agroforestry and permaculture. Comparisons will be made across farms that are adopters of practices, those in transition, and non-adopters. Measured indicators will be related to projected crop yields and soil carbon accrual through modelling of relationships under different practices and under different local contexts (e.g. soil, climate, cropping system, socioeconomics) to provide a framework for decision support.

The student will receive training in a broad range of soil physical, chemical and biological sampling and analyses, and modelling approaches, as well as more generic training for career development.

Funding Notes

This 3.5 year studentship opportunity is open to UK and international students and provides funding to cover stipend, tuition fees and consumable/travel costs. Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].
When applying for the studentship please state clearly the project title/s and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.
We would encourage applicants to list up to three projects of interest (ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice) from those listed with a closing date of 4th January 2023 at https://www.ed.ac.uk/roslin/work-study/opportunities/studentships


Giller KE et al. 2021. Regenerative Agriculture: An agronomic perspective. Outlook on Agriculture 50, 13-25.
Schreefel L et al. 2020. Regenerative agriculture – the soil is the base. Global Food Security 26, 100404.

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