Stable food production is a key prerequisite of food security. Climate change and associated extreme weather can reduce the stability of food production, with dramatic impacts on the availability and affordability of food.
Certain agricultural practises, such as growing a wide diversity of crops on the same farm, or growing combinations of crops and livestock, may make food production at a farm more reliable in a changing climate, and in turn, make farm income more reliable.
This PhD studentship offers the opportunity for a student to identify those farming practises that have proven to be reliable in both food production and farm income over time.
The student will pair climate records with 35 years of data from 1800 farms in England and Wales, including detailed information about cropping area, livestock numbers, costs of management, and farm income. Higher resolution data of current crop cultivar performance in relation to climate factors will be available through a collaboration with Agrimetrics.
Focusing on climate shocks (e.g. heatwaves, drought, late frost) that farms have been subjected to, the student will identify farm practises that have, in past conditions, lead to the most reliable farm food production and farm incomes despite variable weather. This will be used as evidence to select those management practises that may be predicted to improve reliability under future conditions, leading to a robust set of management recommendations that can improve on-farm reliability in the face of increasingly variable weather and projected climate change.
Training opportunities: You will develop skills across several most-wanted areas in the environment sector, including modelling, data management and food supply research, and will have the opportunity to take several postgraduate modules at the University of Reading.
Student profile: We are looking for an enthusiastic and adaptable person, who wishes to develop cross-disciplinary skills. You will have/expect to graduate with a first/upper-second UK honours degree, or equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.
Funding notes: Funding is available for three years from October 2017. A full award would be fees plus an annual stipend. This is set by the Research Councils and will be £14,553 for 2017/18. Eligibility for full funding is restricted to UK students.
To apply: Application deadline Monday 14th August 2017 at 17:30. Please contact Dr Jake Bishop if you would like to discuss the project before applying.
To apply for this PhD studentship visit the University of Reading application form.
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