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  Use of basaltic rock dust to improve grassland and arable soil quality and grassland and crop performance

   School of Biosciences

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  Prof J Leake  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There is increasing interest in artificially enhancing calcium silicate rock weathering to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into carbonate minerals, with the Leverhulme Centre For Climate Change Mitigation, led by Prof David Beerlig FRS, providing a major programe of international reearch in this area. One of the most important candidate materials for enhanced weathering is basalt rock dust as this contains a wide range of essential elements and is rich in silica and calcium. These elements can improve soil quality and grassland performance, but there have been few studies of the effects of basalt rock dust additions to grassland soils in the UK. Ongoing and newly established UK field trials provide excellent opportunity to study how basalt rock dust affects soil biology, chemistry, structure and functioning, including effects on grassland production.

The research area has potential to address a wide range of inmoortant questions- about effects on soil organic matter stocks, whether the basalt dust can facilitate growth of nitrogen-fixing legumes in grasslands thereby raising soil fertility without using fertilizer, and the effects on floristic composition and productivity of grasslands, and on soil organisms such as earthworms. This area of research offers excellent opportunities for training in a wide range of skills in plant and soil science and sustainability science.

Science Graduate School

As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you will get access to training opportunities of the Science Graduate School designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You will be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Agriculture (1) Biological Sciences (4) Environmental Sciences (13)

Funding Notes

Applicants will need to obtain funding to cover tuition fees and living expenses. The applicant should have, or expect to gain at least an upper second class degree, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant subject.

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