Studentship opportunity: Sustainable Phosphorus Management in Soil-Plant-Water System

Deadline for Applications: Mon 7 March 2016
Funding Type: Directly Funded PhD Project (European Students Only)
Type of Study: PhD


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

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.

Funding Notes

This studentship includes a Lancaster University Faculty of Science & Technology 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. Unfortunately studentships are not available to non-UK/EU applicants.

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