Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Organic nutrients: defining risk and managing transfers at catchment scale


Ref Walsh Fellowship Number 2016115


The specific water quality risk associated with organic nutrient management practices is unclear due to difficulties with disaggregating organic sources from soil nutrient sources, and the need to capture data during storm runoff events. Emerging tracer technologies are expensive, require a high level of technical expertise and are only suited to ad hoc storm sampling. An appreciation of hydrological connectivity from sensitive parts of catchments is also required for catchment policy development to prioritise those places at highest risk during storm runoff periods. This is now possible for small fields dominated by micro-topography using higher resolution DEM datasets. To develop the science and aid in policy reviews of organic nutrient management, this project will combine tracer technologies with high-resolution stream nutrient data and spatial data to develop a near-continuous proxy for assessing organic nutrient transfer risk to water in time and space. The method will then be applied to a range of catchments to inform reviews of current agri-environmental policies.


Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or Upper Second Class Honours – e.g. Chemistry, Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, etc.) and a MSc in an appropriate discipline is desirable. The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for laboratory work, extended periods of field-work with modern analytical equipment and overseas travel for training and dissemination opportunities. A full EU driving licence is also required.


The PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford, the Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department, Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Devon and Ulster University. The student will be based for the first two years in Devon and the final two years in Wexford, working under the supervision of Prof Adrian Collins (Rothamsted Research -, Dr Per-Erik Mellander and Dr Sara Vero (Teagasc – and Prof Phil Jordan (Ulster). Periods of post-graduate training work will be undertaken at Ulster University where the student will be registered. The Fellowship will lead to the awards of MRes and PhD and will start in September 2017.

The fellowship provides a stipend over four years from which University fees are paid. The maintenance grant starts at Stg£14,553 per year.

Further Information/Applications

Dr Per-Erik Mellander, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland

Phone: +353 (0)53 9171217 email:

Prof Adrian Collins, Sustainable Soils and Grassland Systems Department, Rothamsted Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, UK, EX20 2SB

Phone: +44 (0)1837 883500 email:

Prof Phil Jordan, School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Ulster University, Cromore Road, Coleraine, N. Ireland, BT52 1SA

Phone: +44 (0)28 7012 4428 email:

Application Procedure

Apply online and return all supplementary documents to the Research Office, Ulster University, Cromore Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SA or by e-mail to

Closing date and interviews

Closing date for applications is 5th May 2017. Interviews will be held on 26th May 2017.

An equal opportunities employer