Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

The impact of novel grass-legume mixtures on soil C and N cycling and greenhouse gas emissions

Teagasc PhD Walsh Fellowship Opportunity

Background

Increasing food supply whilst simultaneously reducing environmental impacts and enhancing resilience to future climate are the key challenges facing agriculture. Increased sustainability and improved N efficiency can be gained through replacing mineral fertiliser with N2-fixing crops. This in turn will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from fertiliser manufacture and N2O emissions associated with fertiliser application. Emissions from the use of these plant species need to be measured to assess net gain. This PhD will focus on quantifying how multispecies pastures/diverse forages reconfigure the structure and function of soil microbial communities, and therein enhance resistance and resilience to climatic perturbation. This will greatly increase our understanding of the underlying microbial processes underpinning nitrogen (N) cycling in soils under diverse forages, and will help to optimise N use efficiency, improve resilience to climate change, and refine greenhouse gas mitigation options. This project seeks to investigate the effects of increasing forage species richness on carbon and nitrogen dynamics between legume and grass as well as quantifying the impact on soil GHG emissions. The candidate will work closely with international experts, sharing equipment and knowledge across partner institutes in Teagasc, Rothamsted Research and Reading. This PhD will form part of a cluster of related PhD studies that focus on agronomy and soil microbiome, providing complimentary knowledge that will benefit this PhD programme. This study provides an exciting opportunity to help develop sustainable pasture based agricultural systems that provide multiple ecosystem functions and are resilient to future climatic change. The project will provide valuable multidisciplinary training and research opportunities in soil C/N cycling, GHG emissions and soil science. The student will join highly successful international research groups, and lively graduate training communities, and will also receive training in a range of other transferable skills.

Requirements

Applications are invited from graduates holding a first or 2.1 class honours degree or M.Sc. in Biochemistry, Soil Science or related discipline. The successful candidate should be practically minded, highly self-motivated, prepared for field and laboratory work and enjoy data analysis and writing. Prior experience in molecular ecology would be advantageous. A full driving licence and fluency in English are essential.

Award

The PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc in Ireland & Rothamsted Research North Wyke. The student will be based at Teagasc Johnstown Castle, Ireland and at Rothamsted Research North Wyke and Reading University, UK for periods of the studentship. The student will be registered at Reading University. The Fellowship provides an annual stipend of €22,000. University fees are paid by the student from this stipend, which is tenable for 4 years.

Further Information/Applications

Dr Gary Lanigan, Teagasc Phone: +353 (0)539171216; email: gary.lanigan@teagasc.ie

Dr Tom Misselbrook, +44 (0) 1837 883 541 email: tom.misselbrook@rothamsted.ac.uk

Prof. Chris Reynolds +44 (0) 118 378 4684 email: c.k.reynolds@reading.ac.uk

Application Procedure

Applicants should apply here . During the applicaion process, please ensure that a current CV is uploaded and also include your qualifications, experience and motivation in your personal statement.

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