Job announcements

15 PhD student positions (ESR) on ‘New bio-based fertilisers from organic waste upcycling’ within the FertiCycle European Training Network

Do you want to contribute to a more sustainable future and development of solutions for the circular economy? The FertiCycle Network is currently looking for 15 highly talented and motivated candidates for PhD, with the skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to help our network make successful research breakthroughs on new bio-based fertilisers from organic waste upcycling.

The FertiCycle Network is a multidisciplinary European Training Network (ETN) funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. The consortium is comprised of 9 world leading universities and 7 research institutions/agencies/companies in 8 European countries.

The background for the FertiCycle network is that currently, the EU is heavily import dependent for more than 90% of the nonrenewable phosphorus and synthetic nitrogen fertilisers consumed. This has large economic cost (more than €15 billion/y) and negative environmental impacts from fertiliser production and use. European farmers and fertiliser industry therefore urgently need techniques for increasing substitution of synthetic with waste-derived nutrients formulated into high-quality, bio-based fertilisers to fulfill the EU action plan on circular economy. However, this requires research into new processing, application and assessment and more innovative and entrepreneurial scientists capable of meeting these future needs – FertiCycle aims to to fill this gap.

The overall research objective of FertiCycle is therefore to develop new processes for production of bio-based fertilisers, recycling wasted resources and to estimate the market potential and sustainability challenges of their production and use.

FertiCycle will train 15 early stage researchers (ESR, PhD) to fulfill this objective. Our comprehensive training program and their individual research projects will enable the individual ESR to generate, integrate and apply inter-disciplinary knowledge for developing new technical solutions for bio-based fertiliser production, management and marketing. The training, secondments and internships will also give them competences for inter-sectoral work and international collaboration in industry and academia.

FertiCycle outcomes will be 15 highly qualified young scientists; required technologies, knowhow and market concepts from which innovative bio-based fertiliser products can develop to proof-of-concept level with industry.

Tasks, responsibilities and opportunities of the ESR:

  • You perform independent scientific research within a collaborative international research consortium (the FertiCycle network).
  • You get in contact and collaborate with the other members of this international consortium and will benefit from the tailored training programme.
  • You participate in international secondments (internship as visiting researcher) to other organisations in the FertiCycle network.
  • You deliver written reports of your research on a regular basis.
  • You write and publish scientific articles related to the research project of the assignment.
  • You support the valorization of research results into tangible deliverables
  • You participate to scientific meetings and conferences to present your research to the scientific community.
  • You actively participate in outreach activities aimed to promote your own scientific research as well as the FertiCycle network activities to a wider audience.
  • You (may) contribute (limited) to teaching activities.

Contact:

For specific information about one of the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor. For general information about FertiCycle see our website www.ferticycle.ku.dk or contact the Project Coordinator, Professor Lars Stoumann Jensen, Dept. Plant and Environmental, University of Copenhagen, lsj@plen.ku.dk, Phone: +45 21222039.

We warmly welcome you to apply for multiple positions if you find you have an interest and qualifications for several of the individual projects. Note however that you will have to apply for each individually at the respective host organisation job-portal (links found in individual project descriptions).

REQUIREMENTS

Required education level:

Agricultural sciences, MSc level

Environmental sciences, MSc level

Engineering, MSc level

Economics, MSc level

 

Skills/qualifications

All candidates are required to have one of the abovementioned qualifying degrees or similar. Furthermore, all FertiCycle candidates are required to have:

  • Sufficient academic skills and background to successfully complete a doctoral degree, and be able to fulfil the admission requirements of the doctoral program in question
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral English) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Specific requirements

Specific skills and qualification requirements for each of the individual position will vary, please see www.ferticycle.ku.dk for specification in the individual project descriptions. These specific requirements and the general skills/qualification requirements will form the basis of the assessment of applicants at the individual host institutions (see Additional Info, Selection Process).

Required languages

English, Excellent

Below is described in detail all vacant positions. For further details please contact local hiring institutions. 

  • Project 1 - Improving fertilising properties and reduction of emissions from dairy excrements by novel manure management strategies

 Host- Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

The candidate is expected to initiate, carry out and be responsible for the activities in the research tasks. More specifically, these entail 1) Preparation, characterisation and comparison of various types of urine, faeces and slurry from dairy cows, 2) Anaerobic digestion experiments with the various types of faeces and slurry obtained in task 1, 3) Storage experiments with the obtained pure and additionally treated types of wastes faeces. Research task 4) An agronomic field experiment with maize and grass where the various types of wastes will be set-up and carried out in close cooperation with one or two of the other candidates in the network. The candidate will further develop innovative methods for sustainable management of dairy excrements throughout the whole chain from excretion up to application in typical dairy farm field crops like grass and maize.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

 Main Supervisor(s): Prof. Prof. Peter Groot Koerkamp / Dr. Jerke de Vries

 

Required qualifications of the applicants

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar

 Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with chemical and microbiological analysis and treatment of soils, organic wastes and other type of residues is required, as well as basic knowledge of gaseous emissions and how to assess them.
  • Experience with plant fertilisation trials (pot or field) and methods for determination of plant nutrient availability and fertiliser value for crops will be an advantage.
  • Knowledge and understanding of dairy farm practices is preferred.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.wur.nl/en/vacancy/PhD-position-Improving-fertilising-properties-and-reduction-of-emissions-from-dairy-excrements-by-novel-manure-management-strategies.htm

 

 

  • Project 2 - Using pH modification of animal manures for reducing emissions and improving fertiliser value

Host- Instituto Superior de Agronomia - University of Lisbon, Portugal

 The candidate will work on new solutions to reduce ammonia and greenhouse gases emissions and improve the fertilizing value of animal manure, namely pig and dairy slurry.  The project includes developing some new treatments by pH modification to simultaneously minimize the environmental impacts associated to manure utilization and to obtain a hygienized manure able to be applied to industrial horticulture and non-agricultural plant production systems, e.g. orchards. The candidate will therefore focus on carrying out experiments for the development of a new integrated process for the hygienization of animal slurry (through pH change) which improves its fertilizer value in order to obtain a new use for animal slurry. The efficiency and environmental impacts associated with these new practices will be evaluated. The main objective will be firstly, to assess the impact of manure pH modifications on the plant nutrient availability and gaseous emissions and secondly, to improve manure treatment allowing manure application in new types of plant production systems. The results should be an optimised technology for manure pH modification with max N retention to obtain some hygienized manure able to be applied in horticulture and other non-agricultural plant production systems, e.g. orchards.

An integrated approach will be undertaken considering the following steps: i) Hygienization of animal manure through alkalinization and / or acidification: process optimization; ii) Complete characterization of treated materials with special emphasis on N, P and C dynamics after application to soil. iii) Soil application of treated animal slurry and as organic fertilizers, in industrial horticulture and orchards. v) Evaluation of the impact of slurry hygienization on nutrient dynamics after application to soil.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. D. Fangueiro / Prof. Luisa Brito / Prof.  J. Coutinho

 

Required qualifications of the applicants

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Agronomy, Environmental Science, Soil Science, or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with i) chemical and microbiological analysis and treatment of soils, organic wastes and other type of residues, ii) animal manure treatment, iii)  gaseous emissions measurement, iv) plant fertilisation trials (pot or field) and v) plant nutrition.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.isa.ulisboa.pt/daf/nrh/concursos/investigadores/aviso-phd-agronomy-environment-soil-science

  • Project 3 - Designing pre-treatment and anaerobic digestion of biowastes for higher crop nutrient utilisation

Host- Aarhus University, Denmark

The candidate will work with various inputs of wastes and crop residues to biogas plants and with different pre-treatment of inputs. Anaerobic digestion (biogas) is expected to be important in future green energy supply. Simultaneously, anaerobic digestion can help to improve the recycling and utilization of nutrients in wastes. However, there is a need for more knowledge about how waste quality, pre-treatment and process conditions affect the utilization of nutrients in the produced digestate in plant production.

The chosen candidate will therefore focus on innovative pre-treatment methods and on process conditions for increased fertilising and economic value. The objective will be to i) identify and describe important pre-treatment factors and their effects on digestate quality as fertilisers, and ii) determine effects of digestion parameters (temperature, retention time) and interaction with biowaste quality on final digestate quality, potential ammonia emissions and nutrient fertiliser value. Different selected bio-wastes (manures, crop residues, green waste, food waste) will be anaerobically digested in continuous flow pilot digesters and a) relationships between initial chemical composition and composition after digestion will be studied with focus on the proportion of inorganic N form. b) Effects of waste pre-treatment (e.g. extrusion, high temperature/pressure treatment) and digestion process parameters (temperatures and retention times) on change in composition after digestion will be investigated. c) Net release of inorganic N and potential ammonia emission after application of treated and untreated wastes to soil will be investigated in micro-plot field studies and pot experiments.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Senior researcher Peter Sørensen

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with chemical analysis of soils and plants and experience with treatment of organic wastes and other types of residues, and with plant fertilisation trials (pot or field) will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://phd.scitech.au.dk/for-applicants/apply-here/may-2020/designing-pre-treatment-and-anaerobic-digestion-of-biowastes-for-higher-crop-nutrient-utilisation/

 

  • Project 4 - Designing novel peat-free organo-mineral fertiliser production from recyclables

Host- University of Torino, Italy

The candidate will work on producing new effective organo-mineral fertilisers based on bio-waste. This requires the development of an innovative technological transformation process of bio-wastes together with the industrial partner, the fertiliser company SCAM. Different organic matrices derived from various waste materials (e.g. separated, composted or digested manure solids, grape or olive pomace, crop residues, municipal waste residuals) will be tested and modified in collaboration with SCAM, to develop new peat-free organo-mineral fertiliser products.

The candidate will focus on characterising the organic fraction, and evaluating the effects on the crop of such newly developed fertilisers through pot trials in growth chamber, field test in small plots, and farm application to assess the fertiliser quality, release of nutrients, and potential environmental risks. Isotope studies will also be used to evaluate the availability and dynamics of macro- and micro-nutrients, and possible bio-stimulant effects of these fertilisers. The result should be the formulation of new eco-friendly, peat-free, highly efficient organo-mineral fertiliser products together with the industrial partner, for commercial use on high-value field crops, horticultural crops and fruit trees.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): C. Grignani/L. Zavattaro

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Agricultural Sciences, Soil Science, Environmental Science or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with plant fertilisation trials (pot or field) and methods for the determination of plant nutrient availability and fertiliser value, chemical and microbiological analysis and treatment of soils, organic wastes and other type of residues will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.disafa.unito.it/do/avvisi.pl/Show?_id=zm5c 

 

 

  • Project 5 - Using upstream AD process-control to achieve minimal content of undesired trace elements

Host- Gent University, Belgium

The candidate will focus on integrating bio-based fertiliser end-product engineering into bio-refinery business concepts. Backtracking from optimal NPK nutrient efficiency based on crop requirements and trace metal quality criteria, semi-continuous pilot assessment trials will be performed to achieve optimal biogas yield combined with optimal end-product fertiliser value and quality. For that, the necessary mechanistic algorithms of individual unit process steps will be develop to simulate and predict the most ideal feed­stock composition to obtain optimal mineral nutrient com­position of end-products (NPK, Ca, Mg, trace elements).

The chosen candidate will pay special attention to the behaviour and fate of undesired components (contaminants) in the digestate. Special technical challenge will be to minimise undesired trace elements (heavy metals) by adjusting feedstock and process parameters (e.g. precipitation/separation) using process engineering, and producing criteria to control effects of variable mineral availability in different soil types. Potential contaminant build-up and behaviour (transformation, speciation) through anaerobic digestion process will be studied and partner expertise on contaminant and nutrient transformation modelling and bio-assay ecotox-assessment applied to predict product characteristics.

The candidate will also study contaminant transformation and speciation using chemical analyses, and biological assays to assess potential ecotox effects. Studies will be conducted to assess potential of decreasing ammonia pressure in the reactor, hence allowing higher N feedstock products (at lower cost). Finally, mechanistic modelling of element speciation data will be applied to expand interpretation.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. E. Meers

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Chemical engineering, Environmental technology, Agronomy or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Good knowledge on anaerobic digestion/precipitation/separation process
  • Experience on chemical analysis with a focus on trace elements (heavy metals)
  • Knowledge on analysing the effects of variable mineral availability in the plant and soil
  • Knowledge on mechanistic modelling will be an advantage.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.ugent.be/en/work/vacancies/scientific/phd-student-36up4 

  • Project 6 - Enhancement of nutrient availability from biowaste ashes, chars and precipitates

Host- University of Copenhagen, Denmark

The candidate will work with various inorganic residuals from manure or wastewater processing and thermal processes for energy recovery, such as mineral concentrates, salts or precipitates, especially those that have a moderate (e.g. struvite) or low solubility (e.g. ashes and chars from incineration, gasification or/ pyrolysis) of nutrients and hence often a low availability for plants. The value of such residues as fertilizers is therefore not sufficiently recognized and utilised.

The candidate will therefore focus on innovative transformation and use of inorganic waste residuals (e.g. ashes and precipitates) and derivatives, for increased fertilising and economic value. The objective will be to develop innovative fermentation methods (various substrates / microbial inoculants) to increase bio-availability of nutrients in ashes, chars and precipitates with low energy use. The result should be increased availability of nutrients contained in these products, especially P, in order to facilitate redistribution locally, regionally or even globally. New and innovative techniques to improve solubility and plant availability of nutrients will be based on biological treatment (bio-acidification) using addition of fermentable organic substrates and organic acid-producing microorganisms to solubilize inorganic phosphates. Plant P uptake and use efficiency will be quantified by P-radioisotope tracing techniques and effects on plant root development and micronutrient uptake evaluated.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. L.S Jensen / Assoc. prof. D. Müller-Stöver

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Strong knowledge about P dynamics in soil and the mechanisms that determine P availability for crop uptake and growth.
  • Experience with chemical and microbiological analysis and treatment of soils, organic wastes and other type of residues,
  • Experience with plant fertilisation trials (pot or field) and methods to determine plant nutrient availability and fertiliser value for crops will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (excellent in written and oral English) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://employment.ku.dk/phd/?show=151437

 

 

  • Project 7 - Development and assessment of new and rapid analyses and test procedures of bio-based fertilisers

Host- Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

The candidate will work with bio-based fertilizers and develop the techniques for rapid analysis of the contents. The PhD candidate will develop a protocol for rapid analysis and test of bio-based fertilisers with near infra-red (NIR) spectroscopy, GC-MS, FTIR-PAS and to analyse a wide range of bio-fertilisers (also following application to soil) via the aforementioned and conventional methods, and test these against results from plant uptake studies in different soils. The developed methods will be validated through comparison of results with conventional methods and the next goal will be to optimize the process.

The candidate will therefore focus on spectral data acquisition and processing. The objective will be to develop innovative methods for rapid analysis and characterization of various contents in bio-based fertilizers. The developed techniques should be robust and able to be deployed in real-world conditions. Once the protocol for characterization of materials through spectroscopy is established, the next task will be to extend the method for hyperspectral imaging. The challenges of low light levels, changing illuminations and pre-processing of hyperspectral data will be addressed. The result should be a protocol of image acquisition and analysis for rapid and accurate analysis of contents in the bio-based fertilizers. New and innovative techniques to improve the spectral analysis should be developed in this project. The identification of most relevant spectral bands across hyperspectral imaging will lead towards the development of specialized multispectral cameras. The availability of these imaging systems and data processing techniques for obtaining the information about contents of bio-based fertilizers.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. Peter Groot Koerkamp / Haris Ahmad Khan

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Computer Vision, Optics, Image Processing or similar.

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with spectral image acquisition and processing.
  • Knowledge of computational imaging and color constancy techniques will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.wur.nl/en/vacancy/PhD-position-in-the-Development-and-assessment-of-new-and-rapid-analyses-and-test-procedures-of-bio-based-fertilisers..htm 

 

 

  • Project 8 - Determining crop uptake and fate of nutrients from new waste and bio-based fertilisers - the case of phosphorus

Host- ETH, Zurich, Switzerland                    

The candidate will work with various bio-based fertilizers, and soil and plant samples from a long-term field experiment and from incubation and pot studies. These samples will be a model in order to improve the long-term tracking of the fate of fertilizer P in soil plant systems. The candidate will focus on a novel isotope method, using the stable 18O bound to P, to study the fate of fertilizer P in soil plant systems. The objective will be to determine isotopic signatures of fertilizers and of P pools in soils that have for years received these fertilizers. The approach will be combined with established P radioisotope techniques and will involve experiments under controlled conditions of lab and greenhouse. The results will improve our understanding on P forms contained in bio-based fertilizers and on the processes which they undergo in the soil. This knowledge is required to predict the availability of bio-based fertilizer P to crops and its potential for P losses to the environment. New and innovative techniques will include isotope methods (18O-P, P radioisotopes), advanced P speciation methods (e.g., 31P-NMR), chemical soil P extraction and possibly microbiological and enzymatic assays.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Dr. A. Oberson, Dr. F. Tamburini, Prof. Dr. E. Frossard

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agricultural Sciences or similar.

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with isotope methods, chemical and microbiological analysis and treatment of soils, bio-based fertilizers or other type of fertilizers, plant fertilisation trials (pot or field),
  • Strong understanding of cycling of phosphorus (or other elements) in agroecosystems.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.
  • Need to fulfil admission requirements of ETH Zurich: https://ethz.ch/en/doctorate/registration-admission.html.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.jobs.ethz.ch/job/view/JOPG_ethz_yj5MV2PcGkaRn8Zh5V 

 

 

  • Project 9 - Determining the fertiliser value and environmental implications of new anaerobic digestate products from agricultural and urban waste streams

Host- Bangor University, the United Kingdom    

Whilst many EU countries, e.g. the UK, DK and NL, have developed sophisticated manure nutrient recommendation systems, there is insufficient evidence about the agronomic and environmental effects of new bio-based products, including modified products to reduce environmental losses, for their inclusion in such decision support systems. There is a growing need to assess the wider implications of using new and existing bio-based products, and develop technologies that enhance their nutrient use efficiencies but reduce their environmental impact.

The chosen candidate will explore the nutrient use efficiencies of acidified and non-acidified fractions of digestates from a range of sources, including crop-based, manure-based and food-waste-based digestates. This will require experimentation at a range of scales (plot and pot experiments, as well as lab-scale assays), to generate data to improve our understanding of soil, environmental and management factors that control nutrient supply (N, P and S) to crops, e.g. via mineralisation from organic forms, and losses of nutrients (especially N) to the environment. There will also be opportunity to explore the impact of processed digestate fractions on soil quality, as it is important to assess if measures to reduce environmental losses, e.g. acidification of digestate to reduce ammonia volatilisation, impact on microbial nutrient cycling and potential carbon sequestration.

Importantly, the candidate will benchmark nutrient supply and environmental losses from modified digestate fractions alongside the use of more conventional organic resources, such as solid manures and slurries. This is important in terms of farmer/grower acceptability and potential adoption. Moreover, this new understanding needs to be applicable to a range of typical soil, crop and climatic conditions. Ultimately, the objective will be to integrate this new knowledge of the agronomic and environmental performance of processed fractions of digestates from different sources into existing decision support tools, such as the UK’s MANNER-NPK, to realize the potential of their use in a range of different agricultural systems and geo-climates across Europe.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. D.R. Chadwick / Prof. Davey Jones

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar.

Skills and competences / experience:

  • A strong background/knowledge of nutrient cycling in agricultural systems
  • Experience in laboratory-scale or plot-scale field experiments
  • Previous experience of soil, manure & crop sampling and analysis is desirable.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration, and of working with the wider community (policymakers, regulators etc) will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.findaphd.com/phds/project/determining-the-agronomic-and-environmental-impacts-of-organic-products-from-agricultural-and-urban-waste-streams/?p120089

 

 

 

  • Project 10- Optimising use and application of waste and bio-based fertilisers – plant and rhizosphere responses to fertiliser placement

Host- University of Copenhagen, Denmark

The candidate will work with formulation of bio-based fertilisers from nutrient rich residuals of manure, urban or bioindustrial wastewater processing or slaughterhouse origin. The central question of the thesis will be to clarify if such resources may be developed into high-efficiency fertiliser granules or pellets, which can be used for placement in certain crops. The candidate will therefore focus on identifying materials suitable for placement, possible pre-treatments and formulating granules or pellets for bio-based fertiliser placement, and testing how these materials affect plant roots, rhizosphere processes and subsequent plant growth. The result should be increased plant availability of nutrients contained in these products, especially P, in order to facilitate better nutrient recycling and redistribution locally, regionally or even globally.

New and innovative techniques to improve solubility and plant availability of nutrients will potentially include chemical treatment and physico-chemical treatment (granulation) allowing placement to increase plant nutrient availability. Plant P and N uptake and use efficiency will be quantified by isotope tracing techniques and effects on plant root development and micronutrient uptake evaluated.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): J. Magid / L.S Jensen

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with chemical and microbiological analysis and treatment of soils, organic wastes and other type of residues.
  • Experience with plant fertilisation trials (pot or field) and methods for determination plant nutrient availability and fertiliser value for crops will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (excellent in written and oral English) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://employment.ku.dk/phd/?show=151438

 

 

  • Project 11 - Modelling the effects of bio based fertilisers on productivity and soil/air/water quality of different cropping systems including market garden in peri-urban agriculture

Host- INRAE, French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment, France

The candidate will evaluate from modelling the environmental and agronomic impacts of bio-based fertilisers on various crop systems of peri urban area. The agriculture is transformed under the expectations of the inhabitants and  market gardening is developing whose products can be sold in short circuits. In addition, the organic waste produced in this urban area can be specific including human urines, digestates, composts…). All of this organic waste can be recycled locally in the agriculture to replace chemical fertilizers. We need to better understand the benefits and environmental impact of the different bio wastes by also taking into account the specificity of peri-urban agriculture. The modelling tool will assess the impact according to the type of fertilizer by adopting a generic approach. The candidate will therefore focus on the modelling of the environmental impact related to C and N dynamics in cropped soils fertilized with various bio-based fertilisers and formulate the best management practices to minimize the environmental impacts, based on the characteristics of applied bio-based and the type of crop systems.

The experimental fields will be located at the Saclay plateau, near Paris, that proposes a diversity of agricultural systems. The crop model (Stics) will be calibrated and tested using (i) a data set obtained from field experiments under cereal crops and (ii) a field trial for market gardening systems that will have to be implemented. The model will then be tested under these conditions using some specific bio-wastes spreading produced by the project. Modelling scenarios will be carried out by crossing different farming systems and a set of bio-wastes produced either locally in the plateau or within the framework of the project. The agronomic and environmental impact obtained from the different scenarios will be compared and discussed.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. S. Houot/ P. Garnier/ L. Vieublé Gonod

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science or Environmental Science

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with modelling in soils or organic wastes decomposition, experience with experimental methods for soil/plant analysis will be an advantage.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made:https://www6.versailles-grignon.inrae.fr/ecosys/Emploi-Formation/Offres-de-these/PhD-position-New-bio-based-fertilisers

 

  • Project 12 - Calculating life cycle inventory factors and life cycle assessments of bio-based fertilisers

Host- University of Copenhagen, Denmark

The candidate will work with environmental impacts associated with land application of bio-based fertilizers. Impacts taking place in the field as a consequence of fertilizer use or application is associated with a range of different environmental impacts. The most important ones include emission of greenhouse gases especially nitrous oxide (N2O), which leads to global warming, nitrate leaching and losses of phosphorus to the environment. These two latter can lead to eutrophication and pollution of soil with toxic heavy metals. When conducting life cycle assessment of systems involving land application of fertilizers, it is always a challenge to estimate emissions and emission coefficients for them.

The chosen candidate will therefore focus on models that can be used to estimate emissions associated with land application of bio-based fertilizers and calculate inventory factors that can be use in life cycle assessment. This includes using models to runs scenarios with application of bio-based fertilizers and developing models for P losses and N2O emissions taking place after land application of bio-based fertilizers. After this has been done, the emission factors and other information will be used to conduct life cycle assessment of bio-based fertilizers.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Assoc. prof. Sander Bruun / Prof. Lars Stoumann Jensen

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Soil Science, Environmental Science, Agronomy or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with soil processes and environmental science.
  • Interest and flair for environmental modelling.
  • Experience with life cycle assessment will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage

 

Link to where application can be made: https://employment.ku.dk/phd/?show=151439

 

 

 

  • Project 13 – Modelling short and long-term effects of bio-based fertilisers on the environment

Host- Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands

The candidate will focus on possible emissions to air and water following from the use of bio-fertilisers in Europe, as well as on mitigation options to diminish the environmental impacts. To this end, two models will be linked: MITERRA-EUROPE and GlobalNEWS /MARINA. MITERRA-EUROPE is a deterministic and static model which calculates N and phosphorus (P) balances, emissions of N-compounds (NH3, N2O, NOx) and methane (CH4) to the atmosphere, and losses of N to ground water and surface waters. The Global NEWS (Global Nutrient Export from WaterSheds) model, and its successor the multi-pollutant MARINA model, simulate the river export of nutrients and other pollutants from land to coastal seas. The model quantifies the annual river export of pollutants. Furthermore, the model calculates the source attribution of these elements as well as the Indicator for Coastal Eutrophication Potential (ICEP).

The objectives of this research are: i) parametrising and linking the Miterra-Europe and the Global NEWS/MARINA models, ii) estimate the effects of bio-based fertilisers on air, groundwater and surface water pollution at catchment, and iii) European scales. The linked model system will be used to assess the effects and interactions of policies and measures in agriculture, for a number of scenarios for the future (up to 2050).

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof dr Carolien Kroeze, dr Maryna Strokal

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Environmental Science or similar.

Skills and competences / experience:

  • We ask for a candidate who has a passion for environmental modelling (e.g. substance flow analysis, environmental pollution management), spatial analysis (e.g. ArcGIS), and with an interest in scenario analysis seeking for solutions, and evaluation of environmental policy.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis, and some programming skills (e.g. R).
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.wur.nl/en/vacancy/PhD-candidate-Modelling-the-effects-of-bio-based-fertiliser-use-on-surface-water-pollution-at-catchment-amp-EU-scales-1.0-fte.htm 

 

 

 

  • Project 14 - Potential market development and cost-benefit analyses for organic waste based fertilisers

Host- United Experts, Belgium

The candidate will focus on the development of the market for bio-based fertilisers. Nowadays the “economic value” of these fertilizers in the market does not correspond with their actual values, which provides no financial incentives to stakeholders for the production of bio-fertilisers. In order to obtain the actual interest, investments and actions towards a broader production of bio-fertilizers, there is the need for a less volatile and more stable market.

The chosen candidate will support the development of this market by assessing different perspectives: (i) the development of a new economic model for the pricing of bio-based fertilisers, and (ii) possible Risk Managing Strategies for price volatility. Both aspects require a good knowledge of the (fertilizer) market and involve stakeholders, legal constraints and overall economic strategies. United Experts can – as a consultancy company – offer direct insights and connections for all of these required aspects. We possess of all required “hedging software” for doing the in depth calculations required for assessing correlations, hedging effectivities and hedging ratios.  Through United Experts the candidate will have a direct link to the market, and in close cooperation with the University of Gent the modelling will be shaped and theoretically assessed.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Mr. Dirk Coucke / Mrs. Lies Bamelis

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Environmental Science, Agronomy, Economics or similar.

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with economic modelling, future markets, nutrient recovery will be an advantage. Good skills in data management and analysis.
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage.

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.unitedexperts.be/web/content/17385

 

 

  • Project 15 - Economic Evaluation of the inclusion of bio-based mineral nutrients in the fertilisation strategies across the EU

Host: University of Gent, Belgium

The FertiCycle ESR-15 will work on quantitative models to simulate the potential of recovered fertilisers. Nutrient recovery can produce a wide variety of products in different quantities in different locations. A key question is how they will be remunerated in the market and how policies have an impact on these markets or how recovered nutrients enter these markets. Quantitative models should be developed to have good insights in the mechanisms that determine the different options for a more circular economy. On the one hand production of fertiliser can be quantified using mathematical programming blending models. The logistics is to be assessed using logistic optimisation models or spatial price equilibrium models. Finally, the demand for fertiliser is determined by cropping decision and crop yield response functions.

The candidate will therefore focus on a crop model will be validated in close collaboration with two of the other fellows in the netorok and linked to EU weather data sets and soil datasets. This work will be based on existing model integrations. These models simulates decisions at farms in selected EU regions and assess the logistics of the transport of manure, bio-based fertilisers and digestate across the EU. The integrated model will simulate how a change of fertilisation standards in different EU member states changes the demand and supply of different fertilisers in different regions and how individual farms respond optimally to such changes. The model should also indicate the subsequent impact on water quality and be able to simulate different weather scenarios.

The candidate will also be asked to do secondment (internship as visiting researcher) at one of the other FertiCycle partners for a shorter period of time (1-3 months).

Main Supervisor(s): Prof. Jeroen Buyusse

 

Required qualifications of the applicants:

Type of degree: Applicants need to have an MSc degree in Applied economic sciences, mathematical modelling, bioscience engineering or similar

Skills and competences / experience:

  • Experience with quantitative economic analysis, preferably using GAMS modelling or experience with R and GIS software will be an advantage.
  • Good skills in data management and analysis
  • Strong communication (written and oral) and interpersonal skills
  • Experience with cross-disciplinary and/or multi-cultural collaboration will be an advantage

 

Link to where application can be made: https://www.ugent.be/en/work/vacancies/scientific/phd-student-xeo6l