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Teagasc PhD Walsh Fellowship Opportunity


Fate of Phosphorus Fertiliser Inputs to Agricultural Soils; Quantifying gross P transformation rates and soil P supply

Walsh Fellowship Reference: 2015033


Agriculture typically relies on large quantities of phosphorus (P) inputs to most productive cropping systems; however, it is often used inefficiently with a large proportion of the added P subsequently becoming unavailable for plant P uptake or lost altogether. Costs of fertilizer P have doubled in the last ten years, hence, careful use of finite P resources in agricultural systems is clearly warranted.  The objective of this Walsh Fellowship is to develop a new understanding of soil P transformations and cycling in intensively managed grassland soils which will feed into a quantitative modelling framework applicable to Irish agriculture. We will use existing and supplementary laboratory data, complemented with existing national field data, to develop a model of transformations of P in soils and availability to grassland pasture species. The main scientific deliverable of this fellowship will be an innovative understanding of soil P transformations, and the factors controlling soil P supply, which will be captured in a simple and validated model predicting P bioavailability based on soil properties, nutrient management and pedo-climatic inputs. We envisage that the insights and quantitative framework arising from this fellowship will facilitate the development of soil-specific P advice; this has the potential to reduce direct costs to farmers and reduce risks of P-loss to water, and multiple scientific publications This highly-structured Walsh Fellowship uniquely brings together the complementary resources and expertise of the three participating institutes, i.e. Teagasc Johnstown Castle (soil P management), the University of Limerick (statistical analysis and modelling) and the University of Adelaide (Australia) (novel techniques for tracing soil P transformation and cycling).



Applicants should have a primary degree (ideally ≥ 2.1) and/or M.Sc. in an appropriate discipline (Agricultural Science, Environmental Science, Earth Science, Chemistry etc.). The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for laboratory work and extended periods of field work with modern analytical equipment. The applicant should have a good working knowledge of English (spoken and written) and hold a full EU driving licence.


The PhD Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Johnstown Castle and University of Limerick (UL). The student will be based, in the first instance, at the Teagasc Research Centre at Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford and will be registered at UL. The student will work under the supervision of Professor Andrew Fowler, and Dr David Wall (Teagasc). The student will also attend University of Limerick for course work and periods of training. The Fellowship will start in October 2016, once the most suitable candidate is appointed.

The fellowship provides a stipend of €22,000 per annum. University tuition fees are paid by the student from the stipend which is tenable for 4 years, to be completed by the end of September 2019 (annual tuition fees for Irish, UK and European Union residents are currently ~€5,471).

Further Information/Applications

Contact Dr David Wall, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Republic of Ireland

Phone +353 (0)53 917 1319        email: David.wall@teagasc.ie


Contact Professor Andrew Fowler, MACSI, Department of Mathematics and Statistics University of Limerick. Phone +353 61 234642  email: Andrew.fowler@ul.ie


Application Procedure

Submit an electronic copy of Curriculum Vitae and a letter of interest simultaneously to:

Prof. Andrew Fowler (Andrew.fowler@ul.ie) and Dr David Wall (David.wall@teagasc.ie).


Closing date: 15th July 2016 or when a suitable candidate is identified

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