Rothamsted Research

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Research Studentships & Job Vacancies

Current Research Studentships:

PhD Studentship - Optimising Pasture-Based Ruminant Production Systems with University of Bristol - School of Veterinary Sciences

Placed on: 13 February 2017

Closes: 21st April 2017

Primarily based at Rothamsted Research (Okehampton, Devon), with occasional travel to School of Veterinary Sciences (Langford, Somerset)

The project:

With the annual throughputs of 2.94 million cattle and 14.6 million sheep, UK ruminant farms and the associated sectors produce meat products worth £9.8 billion per year and their existence is widely considered to be indispensable for the maintenance of various ecosystem services and rural communities. In particular, pasture-based ruminant production systems utilise land unsuitable for arable crop production and therefore have the potential to contribute to global food security without initiating the food-feed competition for natural resources.

At the same time, ruminants are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, with 10 percent of human-induced carbon footprint attributable to their production around the world, and also a leading polluter of waterways. Given this economic-environmental trade-off, there is a clear and urgent need to identify strategies for improving the system-wide performance of the industry.

Recent research based on producer surveys has shown that the economic performance of UK livestock farms have a level of variability far beyond what can be explained by the geographical and biophysical conditions they operate in, and even more crucially, their economic performance is strongly correlated with environmental performance. This finding, combined with the estimated figure that more than 90% of global warming potential along the UK value chain for beef and lamb are attributable to on-farm activities, suggests that economic optimisation of ruminant production systems will not only benefit UK society economically but also environmentally.

Using the rich dataset and state-of-the-art facilities available at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP), this project provides the student with a unique opportunity to investigate options to enhance environmental performance of pasture-based ruminant production systems by the means of economic optimisation. While a stronger emphasis will be placed on sheep production systems (which have been shown to be environmentally less efficient than beef systems in the UK), strategies for optimal resource allocation between the beef and lamb sectors will also be explored as part of the research. Outputs from the project will be directly disseminated to the industry through the large network of commercial farms maintained by AHDB, the levy board for English agricultural producers who sponsors this research.

How to apply: Please make an online application for this project at Please select ‘Faculty of Health Sciences’ and then ‘Veterinary Sciences_(PhD)’ on the Programme Choice page and enter details of the studentship when prompted in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interviews after the closing date.

Candidate requirements: Standard University of Bristol eligibility rules apply. Please visit for more information.

Funding: AHDB Beef & Lamb PhD Studentship (

This studentship will cover a stipend equivalent to the ongoing rate for BBSRC Doctoral Training Programmes (currently £14,296 per annum), UK/EU tuition fees for 36 months and costs to conduct the aforementioned research. Applications from international students outside of the EU will be considered; however the candidate would be expected to fund the difference between UK/EU fees and overseas fees.

Contacts: Dr Taro Takahashi (

Professor Michael Lee (

Current Farm Platform Job Vacancies


Closing Date: Friday, 21 April, 2017 - 17:30

Interviews will be held: w/c 01/05/2017

Vacancy reference: 1551

Applicants please note that we will be unable to accept completed applications for any advertised position if they are received after close of business (5.30pm) on the specified closing date.

We are seeking a highly qualified postdoctoral scientist with a PhD in animal science, animal nutrition (ruminants), animal behaviour, livestock production systems, pasture management or similar field.  Initially a three-year position, you will be based at Rothamsted’s North Wyke site, home of the North Wyke Farm Platform (NWFP) in Devon, UK (

In order to support the projected global population of 9.15 billion people at mid-century, a 70% increase in global food production is believed to be required. Pasture-based ruminant production systems can utilise soils unsuitable for arable crop production by converting forages/fibrous feedstuffs into high-quality protein sources for humans. Concurrently, ruminants are a significant source of emissions, polluters of waterways and also a cause of semi-permanent land degradation. Given this strong trade-off between the costs and benefits, there is an urgent need for strategy development to improve system-wide performance of pasture-based livestock production.

Rothamsted is now launching a five-year, £8.5m strategic research programme entitled Soil to Nutrition (S2N) in April 2017. Using the NWFP’s state-of-the-art facility, you will design and deploy field experiments for cattle and sheep within the S2N framework, carry out supplementary lab analyses to elucidate dynamic flows of nutrients, assess the production efficiency and welfare of grazing animals through behavioural analyses, engage in agricultural system modelling and development of sustainability metrics useful for producers/policymakers.

This full time fixed term role is initially offered for three years with a starting salary in the range of £29,842 to £32,315 per annum. 

Enquiries should be addressed to Head of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences (North Wyke), Professor Michael Lee (

To apply, please complete all sections of the application form and return to the HR Group by email to Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2JQ, tel 01582 763133

Job Description: 

Candidates should complete all three sections and submit them as three separate documents

National Capability

A national capability is a BBSRC-funded resource intended to benefit the scientific community in general. These can be facilities as well as opensource datasets. 

National Capabilities

Rothamsted Insect Survey

Operates two national networks for monitoring insect populations in the UK

North Wyke Farm Platform

Provides the research community access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated fields and farms to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture.


A database of interactions between pathogens and their hosts maintained at Rothamsted Research with international input.

Long-Term Experiments

These have been running since the mid 19th Century, provide a unique experimental system and archive of soil and plant samples.