Deadline: 16 February 2023
Animal performance from mixed swards of perennial ryegrass and clover exhibit improved production efficiencies leading to increased profitability on Irish farms. Additionally clovers reduce artificial nitrogen input, mitigating against the adverse effects of agriculture on the environment. Increasing the level of clover adoption on farm is a key actions that will help Ireland achieve its emission reduction targets of 51% between 2018–2030 and net-zero by 2050.
The key objective of this PhD project is to identify elite clover varieties capable of supporting grass-based ruminant production systems of enhanced economic and environmental efficiency. The Pasture Profit Index (PPI) is a perennial ryegrass variety evaluation and selection tool developed by Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in 2015.
Within the PPI, variety performance is expressed as the additional profit generated by that variety. The total PPI value of the highest performing variety in 2015 was €208 while in 2022 this has increased to €253, indicating the genetic gain achieved in this short period of time. Large industry support of the PPI has been evident with top ranking varieties commanding larger demand on commercial farms. Following on from the success of the PPI, a similar clover variety selection index is required to focus clover variety breeding and variety selection decisions.
The objective of the PhD is to enhance current white clover variety evaluation protocols by developing new methodologies for the evaluation of novel clover traits such as nitrogen fixation and quality. A new red clover variety evaluation system will also be developed. The ‘Clover Profit Index’, the first of its kind in the world, will be developed to identify superior clover varieties. This will ultimately influence clover variety selection decisions on commercial farms and direct clover breeding strategies of breeders.
- Applications are invited from graduates holding or expecting an honours degree in Agricultural Science, Plant science or related disciplines.
- The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and prepared for fieldwork.
- The PhD Scholarship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Moorepark and the School of Biological Sciences, Queens University Belfast (QUB).
- The student will be based at Teagasc, Moorepark, Co. Cork and will be registered at QUB, working under the supervision of Prof. Michael O’Donovan (Teagasc), Prof. Trevor Gilliland (QUB) and Dr. Tomás Tubritt.
- The Walsh Scholarship funding is €24,000 per annum and includes University fees of up to a maximum of €6,000 per annum.
IV. How To Apply?
- Applicants should submit a CV and covering letter detailing their qualifications and experience by email to Prof. Michael O’Donovan ([email protected]).
- For more information, please, contact Prof. Michael O’Donovan, Teagasc, Grassland Science Research Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Moorepark, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland Phone +353 (0)25 42395 email: [email protected]