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Soil Compaction – Evaluating effects of remediation strategies on soil, nutrients, plants and water

Project Description

Soil compaction is one of the biggest threats for agricultural soils in Ireland due to intensification of animal production systems and larger and heavier machinery operations. This exciting PhD research fellowship aims to build new understanding of the effect of soil compaction on soil quality and to identify strategies for remediating soil compaction. The successful candidate will conduct research studies to investigate the effects on soil structural quality, nutrient supply and losses, crop yields and water storage and drainage. This PhD research will be integrated with the work being conducted in the EU AgriChemWhey project where lacto-gypsum coming from dairy processing will be tested as a soil amendment for conditioning and remediating agricultural soils.

The student will work within the dynamic research teams at Environment Soil and Land-use Department at Teagasc Johnstown Castle and the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin (UCD). These multi-disciplinary teams have vast experience and publications within the fields of soil physics, soil:plant interactions, soil biology, nutrient cycling and agronomy. The student will also interact with other students conducting their PhD at Teagasc Johnstown Castle and UCD in an open and friendly learning environment.
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, scientific writing etc. which will benefit their future career.

Applicants should have a primary degree (ideally ≥ 2.1) and/or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Agricultural Science, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Chemistry etc.). The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for laboratory work and extended periods of field work with modern analytical equipment. A good knowledge of soils and agricultural production systems is an advantage. The applicant should have a good working knowledge of English (spoken and written) and hold a full EU driving licence.

The PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Johnstown Castle and University College Dublin (UCD). The student will be based, in the first instance, at the Teagasc Research Centre at Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford and will be registered as a postgraduate student at UCD. The student will work under the supervision of Prof Olaf Schmidt and Dr Saoirse Tracy at UCD, Dr David Wall, Dr Owen Fenton and Dr Giulia Bondi at Teagasc. Periods of laboratory work and training will be undertaken at UCD. This PhD Fellowship is expected to start in January 2020, or once a suitable candidate is appointed thereafter.

Funding Notes

The fellowship provides a tax-free stipend of €18,000 per annum, which is tenable for 4 years and UCD PhD registration fees (€6,000 per annum) will also be covered for Irish, UK and EU citizens. To be completed by the end of December 2024.


Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae and a letter of interest to: Dr David Wall ([email protected]).

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