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Sustainable Phosphorus Management in Soil-Plant-Water System

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  • Full or part time
    Prof P Haygarth
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PhD Studentship & Secondment in China under the SEW-REAP Programme

Please note due to funding restrictions this opportunity is only available to EU citizens. Please do not apply if you are not an EU citizen as your application will not be considered.

In recent years, China has significantly increased cereal production, yet recent predictions suggest 30-50% more food must be produced over the next 20 years to meet expected demand (Zhang et al., 2013, Nature, 497,33–35). In parallel, dietary changes within the Chinese population, including increased dairy consumption and demand for vegetables are driving a number of challenging shifts in agricultural production within China. For example, increasing disconnection between concentrated animal production and arable or horticultural land means that animal manure and slurry cannot be returned to agricultural land. This breaks a historically important link between animal and crop production and risks adverse environmental impacts as a result of manure/slurry loss to water bodies.

Meeting future demands for agricultural production and food security in China should not continue to be at the expense of the broader range of ecosystem services delivered by soil and water systems. Meeting this challenge is fundamentally reliant on the way in which the plant nutrient phosphorus (P) is managed to deliver goals related to production and environmental protection. This requires improved understanding, modelling and management of P cycles – perhaps the most significant environmental interface that moderates the stocks and flows of P to rivers (Haygarth et al., Env Sci Tech, 2014, 48, 8417-8419).

This PhD targets better understanding and management of the stocks and flows of phosphorus within the key different ecological zones of China. Drawing on a range of existing collaborations across the UK and China within our project team, we will work in representative cereal, vegetable, fruit and animal production systems, spanning the individual farm to the watershed scales. Through training focussed on modelling, monitoring and the development of practical responses, the ultimate aim of the PhD is to establish understanding to support the sustainable intensification of agricultural production in China, whist providing clean water.

Further Information:

Academic Requirements: First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree, or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject.

Deadline for applications: 21 August 2016

Interview Date: 23 August 2016

Start Date: October 2016

For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact Prof Phil Haygarth ([Email Address Removed])

Application process: Please upload a completed application form (download from outlining your background and suitability for this project and a CV at LEC Postgraduate Research Applications,

You also require two references, please send the reference form (download from to your two referees and ask them to email it to Andy Harrod ([Email Address Removed]), Postgraduate Research (PGR) Co-ordinator, Lancaster Environment Centre by the deadline.

Due to the limited time between the closing date and the interview date, it is essential that you ensure references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible.

Funding Notes

This studentship includes a Lancaster University FST studentship and a 2-year studentship from the EU EuropeAid SEW-REAP programme. The former covers 3 years of UK/EU tuition fees and one year’s maintenance in the UK (at £14,057 (tax free)) while the latter provides maintenance support for two years while you are based in China at approximately £1200 per month. This latter sum must also cover flights to China and Chinese language tuition. Studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants due to funding restrictions. Please do not apply if you are not an EU citizen as your application will not be considered.

How good is research at Lancaster University in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

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

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