PhD Project "Development of tyre soil interaction models for use to improve cereal establishment"



A fully funded 4-year PhD is offered for a project entitled "Development of tyre soil interaction models for use to improve cereal establishment".

UCD together with Origin Enterprises Plc are establishing a new collaborative research programme, CONSUS, focussed on the application of precision agriculture to crop production with a particular emphasis on optimisation of agri-food production systems leading to more efficient food production with lower environmental impacts. The outcomes from this research programme will deliver a step-change in crop agronomy tools and practices, leading to enhanced global competitiveness.

Project Summary:

This PhD is part of a larger research project looking at crop establishment, soil nutrients and crop management. For this particular PhD, times of sowing and cultivation strategy are key related components in cereal production. Seedbed preparation is crucial for crop establishment, growth and ultimately, yield; however, different crops require differing soil physical properties for successful establishment. There is a need to investigate reduced or low disturbance techniques and their capacity to reduce establishment costs, increase sowing capacity and facilitate alternative sowing dates. The interaction between axle loads, tyre configurations, soil properties and metrological data needs to be determined and a model developed that will bring together these elements together in order to assess the impact of various axle load configurations on soil properties and the subsequent yield impacts. This PhD will develop a dynamic model to relate the interactions between axle loads, soil physical properties, climatic conditions and time windows in order to develop a decision support system for assessing soil vulnerability to compaction and hence yield losses. The model developed in this PhD will also use published results on soil vulnerabilities, crop varieties and soil moisture levels to create soil specific weather working windows.

Objective(s).

  • Create database of soil types and physical properties (bulk density, cone penetrometer etc.), and a database of axle loads for range of tillage machinery based on widths, loaded and unladen weights, tyre configurations and pressures, availability of CTI, possibility of manual CTI (tractor on-board air compressor), working widths, autosteer, use of own or contractor equipment, any CTF practiced, etc.
  • To determine the axle load and configurations of a range of cereal establishment systems from zero till to conventional ploughing/sowing.
  • To study the interaction between the impact of the establishment system on soil properties and subsequently yield.
  • To develop an interactive model that will enable users to assess the yield impacts from the soil damage caused by the different establishment systems on a limited number of soils

Applications are sought from a highly motivated individual who has a first or upper second class degree in agricultural sciences, plant science, horticulture, crop science, biology or closely related disciplines and a willingness to learn.

The PhD Scholarship will be €23,500 per annum for four years from which tuition fees of €6,810 (open to EU students only) will be deducted and the remainder will be paid as a tax-free stipend. The work will be based at University College Dublin, School of Agriculture & Food Science, Belfield, Dublin 4.

To apply submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae, a letter of interest and names and email addresses of two academic referees to Dr Kevin McDonnell electronically: kevin.mcdonnell@ucd.ie For informal questions and queries please email Dr. Kevin McDonnell or Dr Mary Harty (mary.harty@ucd.ie)

Closing Date for applications: 15th Dec 2019.

Start date: 6th Jan 2020.

posted: 12 November 2019     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.