Yield and refining quality of biomass produced on rewetted peatland and measurements of greenhouse gas emissions

Applications are invited for a PhD fellowship/scholarship at Graduate School of Science and Technology, Aarhus University, Denmark, within the Agroecology programme. The position is available from 1 May 2018 or later.

Yield and refining quality of biomass produced on rewetted peatland and measurements of greenhouse gas emissions

Research area and project description:
The current management of agricultural peatland in Denmark and Northern Europe in general is under pressure because of environmental concerns and climate change. Traditional agricultural crop production requires drainage of the peatland causing large quantities of CO2 emission when the peat is oxidised. The resulting peat subsidence and the more wet summer climate in Denmark impede traditional agricultural management of these areas. New and deeper drainage as the solution is problematic because of environmental concerns, so alternative economic and environmentally sustainable management systems of the Danish stream valleys are needed. One possibility is rewetting and production of flooding tolerant crops also known as paludiculture.

The objective of this PhD study is to investigate production potentials of flooding tolerant perennial grasses on rewetted peatlands. Quality of the harvested biomass should be determined with particular focus on leaf protein production and extractability. Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of peat soils after rewetting should be assessed, and this will include evaluation of spatial variation in CO2, CH4 and N2O emissions after rewetting of a range of excavated peat monoliths from currently drained agricultural peatlands. Measurement techniques include static and automated chambers, infrared gas analyser (IRGA) and laboratory gas chromatograph. Soil and crop physiological measurements are needed for modelling and upscaling of campaign data.

Data from the PhD project will be used in a life cycle assessment of protein production to monogastric animals and forage to ruminants derived from flooding tolerant perennial grasses.

The PhD project contributes to the EU project PEATWISE www.eragas.eu/index.php/research-projects/peatwise and will be linked to the recently established Aarhus University Centre for Circular Bioeconomy (CBIO) http://cbio.au.dk/en/.

Qualifications and specific competences:
Applicants to the PhD positions must have a Master’s degree in biology, agronomy, another relevant MSc or equivalent (or graduate in the very near future – documentation for final thesis and date of examination must be enclosed in the application).

Documented knowledge and experience in one or more of the following areas is advantageous:

·         Field work on crop production and crop physiology

·         Chemical analysis in laboratory

·         Greenhouse gas flux measurements

·        Handling large data sets, data processing and modelling

·         Able to work independently but also in teams within an interdisciplinary international academic environment

Place of Employment and Place of Work:
The place of employment is Aarhus University, and the place of work is Department of Agroecology, Research Centre Foulum, Blichers Allé 20, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark.

Applicants seeking further information are invited to contact:

Applicants seeking further information may contact senior researcher Poul Erik Lærke, e-mail: PoulE.Laerke@agro.au.dk, phone: +45 8715 7692 or senior researcher Uffe Jørgensen, e-mail: Uffe.Jorgensen@agro.au.dk, phone: +45 8715 7729.

Application procedures

Before you apply

Information and attachments:

Please be aware that you must have all relevant appendices, attachments, addresses for referees, etc. ready when you apply, as the entire application must be uploaded to the system in one go.

Documentation of language skills:

The English language requirement at Graduates School of Science and Technology is comparable to an “English B level” in the Danish upper secondary school (“gymnasium”).

English language qualifications comparable to an “English B level” is documented by one of the following tests:

  • TOEFL test, minimum score: 560 (paper-based test) or 83 (internet-based test). Aarhus University does not accept the TOEFL ITP test. Aarhus University’s TOEFL code is 8935. You must request that the test centre send your test results to Aarhus University, in order to enable verification of your test results.
  • IELTS (academic) test, minimum average score: 6.5 points
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment:
    Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency (CPE)
    Cambridge English: Certificate of Advanced English with grade A,B or C (CAE)
    Cambridge English: First Certificate  with grade A (FCE)

When to take the test and how to upload the documentation:
The test result must not be more than two years old at the time of application.

The English language test should be taken before applying for admission and uploaded under “language skills documentation” in the online application form.

It is possible to apply for admission before you have taken the test. In this case documentation stating that you have signed up for a test (please state expected submission date) must be uploaded. If the test result is not part of the original application the test result is to be sent to sphd@psys.au.dk no later than one month after the application deadline.

The following applicants are exempted from documenting their English qualifications/taking a test:

  • Applicants with citizenship from the following countries: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, or one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden).
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, or United States. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section ”Language skills documentation”.
  • Applicants with a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme completed at Aarhus University for which the requirement was English B level at the time of admission. In this case, please upload your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma under the section”Language skills documentation”.
  • Applicants able to document that English was the language of instruction during the whole period of their Bachelor’s and/or Master’s programme. This must be documented by uploading an official document from the institution stating this under “language skills documentation”. The onus is on the applicant to provide this information as GSST will not pursue information regarding language of instruction for any programmes or institutions.

The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.

How to apply:

1)      Find the application form:
Go to http://talent.au.dk/phd/scienceandtechnology/opencalls/
Choose February 2018 Call with deadline 1 February 2018 at 11.59 PM MET.
You will be directed to the call, and must choose the programme “Agroecology”.

2)      Fill in the following information:

  • Personal information
  • Academic background
  • Admission
  • Financing (if any)
  • Study: In the dropdown menu you must choose the project: "Yield and refining quality of biomass produced on rewetted peatland and measurements of greenhouse gas emissions"
  • Source (how you found out about the call)

Next to some of the information fields you will find a number. Click on the number to get further directions on how to fill in the information field/what information is needed.

3)      Application attachments:

Please be aware that you cannot submit the application if one or several of these documents have not been uploaded.

If you wish to upload more than one document under each section, you must scan/merge all documents into one large PDF file and upload this. Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and the like. Instead you can indicate a URL where the information is available.

Please note that all information in the application must be in Danish or English.

As a minimum all applications must include (pdf-files only, max. 20 MB, no zip):

  • One reference (template for references)
  • Curriculum vitae,
  • Motivation (max. 1 page)
  • Transcripts and diploma(s)
  • Project description (½-4 pages). For technical reasons, you must upload a project description. When - as here - you apply for a specific project, please simply copy the project description above, and upload it as a PDF in the application. If you wish to, you can indicate an URL where further information can be found.  Please note that we reserve the right to remove scientific papers, large reports, theses and the like.
  • Documentation of language skills if required.

After submission of the application, you will receive a confirmation e-mail with an application ID, you should use for reference if needed. The e-mail will also include a link to the application – GSST urges you to check that all mandatory data, marked with an asterisk (*), is registered correctly and all attached files are readable. In case of significant errors, you should reply to the confirmation e-mail with the correct details before the application deadline.

GSST reserves the right to verify the authenticity of your educational diploma and transcripts:

  • Request additional information to verify an application.
  • Reject the application if it is proven, or if the University has reasonable belief, that the information provided is false or if the applicant refuses to provide the requested information, whether or not an offer has already been made. 
  • For further information on applying, assessment procedures, etc. please see the GSST application guide here  

Please note:

  • The programme committee may request further information or invite the applicant to attend an interview.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background.