PhD Studentship in Crop Science

Updated: about 1 month ago
Location: Reading, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 08 Jul 2022

Project title: The Impact of Peat Free Compost Alternatives on the Physical, Nutritional, and Sensory quality of Kale

Supervisors: Dr Luke Bell (University of Reading), Dr Lael Walsh (Teagasc), Dr Tijana Blanusa (University of Reading/Royal Horticultural Society), Dr Dilip Rai (Teagasc)

Project Overview:  Peat is a finite resource that has been exploited by the horticulture industry, leading to damage of peatland habitats. Peat products are being phased out in the UK and Ireland and it is unknown what the impacts of this transition will be on crop quality.

The student will study impacts of peat withdrawal on kale; a leafy vegetable grown in peat before transplantation into field productions. The applicant will study diverse kales and the effects growing media has on physiology, biochemistry, and sensory quality. The aim of the research is to provide recommendations to growers on the optimal peat-free alternative for Brassica transplants. This will benefit the Brassica community and be a proof of concept for other crops that are reliant on peat in their production. This exciting project will allow the student to make significant research impacts and direct contributions towards horticultural sustainability in the UK and Ireland.

The research will be conducted at the University of Reading; a world-renowned institution ranked 12th Agriculture & Forestry Research Universities. The student will also study at TEAGASC – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority of Ireland – with experts in sustainable crop production and food analysis. There will be opportunities to interact with the UK’s largest gardening/horticultural charity, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). The successful student will learn to use advanced techniques to establish biochemical responses to peat and peat-free media, and how this impacts quality.


  • Applicants should hold/expect to gain a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in Agriculture, Plant Biology, Plant Biochemistry, Food Science, Soil Science, or related subject. Masters qualifications in these or related subjects would be advantageous.
  • Due to restrictions on funding this studentship will only cover tuition fees of UK and Irish applicants (up to €6,000). Worldwide applicants are welcome but must cover costs for international tuition fees (currently £21,350 per annum).

Funding Details:   

  • Starts 03/10/2022
  • 4-year award
  • Funding covers tuition fees for UK and Irish students plus a stipend (total value €24,000/year)
  • Funding covers research and travel expenses.

How to apply:  

To apply click at  create your account and use the link sent by email to start the application process. During the application please select the PhD in Crop Science (SAPD).

*Important notes*

  • 1) Please quote the reference ‘GS22-051’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.
  • 2) When you are prompted by the online application system to upload a research proposal, please omit this step as the project is already defined.

Application Deadline:  8th July 2022

Further Enquiries:  

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria.

For further details contact Dr Luke Bell ( ) or Dr Lael Walsh ( ).

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