Exploring the impact of sward composition and management on productivity and quality of herbage and associated biodiversity

With the University College Dublin we have a PhD position:



We Are:

The UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science is the only academic institution in Ireland that delivers education and research on the complete food chain from initial on-farm production through processing to final consumption by the consumer. The School supports the agri-food industry in Ireland by educating students to become industry leaders and by conducting world class research.

Devenish is a farming and food company, delivering sustainable and innovative nutritional products and solutions for the feed industry, the food industry and for human health.

This PhD project is part of the EU2020 project HeartLand (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Rural development: Training network for LAND management), an Innovative Training Network of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions.

The Project:

Ruminants convert biomass unsuitable for direct human consumption into valuable food. While grazing they can also provide a wide range of other ecosystem services, such as enhancing biodiversity, increasing carbon sequestration, and water regulation. However, ruminant farming is also associated with land use change (especially deforestation), greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of soils and water, biodiversity loss, and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, we need to re-think the way we keep farm animals, especially ruminants, to address the challenges in livestock production, while providing a wider range of goods and services to society, including healthy food.

The HeartLand project has the overall objective to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative PhD graduates to investigate how to create economically and environmentally sustainable livestock products of enhanced nutritional value through pasture-based production systems. HeartLand will explore and integrate the relationships between soil, sward, animal, farm management, environment and ultimately human health. The HeartLand project will be recruiting 5 PhD candidates to develop their projects in the domains of soil biology, grassland sciences and sward composition, animal nutrition and performance, farming systems and modelling, and environmental sciences.

This PhD project will focus on the composition and management of various sward types in terms of the establishment and persistence of species, herbage quantity and quality and associated earthworm diversity and water infiltration. The project will be supervised by scientists in the School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin and at Devenish Nutrition (Ireland).

Your Role:

A PhD candidate who is familiar with grass-based livestock production systems. This PhD will establish the potential (yield, persistence, etc.) of a range of sward types managed under a mixed grazing farm let scale system. Through plot-scale experiments they will also investigate the influence of sward type, sward establishment method and subsequent management on species establishment, persistence, dry matter yield, herbage quality earthworm diversity and soil water infiltration.

This research project will involve desk-work, such as reviewing literature and the writing of scientific papers. It will also involve the execution of a large-scale experimental studies and the subsequent laboratory analysis of the samples obtained, and statistical analysis of the data collected.

We Ask:

For this interdisciplinary project, we are looking for an enthusiastic results-driven person with an appropriate degree in agricultural, animal, environmental or other biological science who is interested in undertaking research in agricultural ecology and agronomy. Candidates must have excellent verbal and written English, communicate efficiently and effectively and excel in problem solving. Candidates should also have research experience and be familiar with data management and analysis, be a team-player and highly effective in time and project planning.

Prerequisites for application subject to the Innovative Training Network of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions:

  • degree in agricultural, animal, environmental or other biological science
  • You have been living and working/studying outside Republic of Ireland before 1st March 2018
  • Be available and willing to travel and relocate to Dublin/ROI for 48 months
We Offer:
  • PhD position within the School of Agriculture and Food Science at University College Dublin for 48 months
  • A job in an international setting with varied work and plenty of opportunities for personal development in a supportive and open working environment.
  • A competitive salary of € 2,325 per month, €27,900 per annum Excellent training and development opportunities
  • Expected starting date: September / October 2019
How to Apply

Send your CV and a short motivation letter to HR@devenish.com

Closing date for applications: August 30th 2019 at 5pm.

Devenish Nutrition Ltd is an Equal Opportunities Employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community