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FUNDED MRes - Optimization of net zero strategies in UK beef and sheep sectors

Food, Land & Agribusiness Management

Location:  Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB
Salary:  As per advert
Post Type:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Monday 04 July 2022
Interview Date:  See advert
Reference:  MRES-KB1-WCB


UK agriculture, and in particular the livestock sector, remains a significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and agricultural and environmental policy in the UK is focused on moving agriculture towards being net zero (i.e., carbon neutrality) while maintaining a profitable and socially resilient agricultural sector. Previous research has demonstrated that there are a number of pathways to achieving carbon neutrality or net zero in agricultural production systems, and there are many tools available that model farming systems and their carbon balance. However, no decision support frameworks are currently available that help pragmatically guide the decision making of farmers when they try to balance between maintaining long-term whole farm profitability, GHG emission mitigation and carbon sequestration strategies that move the farming system towards net zero, in conjunction with other factors which may be important to the goals of the business and its stakeholders (including the supply chain and consumers), such as social and environmental impacts, natural capital, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Project Objectives

The objective of this MRes scholarship is to support the development of a researcher that is capable of developing, testing and applying a multi-objective optimisation framework within UK beef and sheep farming systems.

Building on the success of the Hands Free Hectare Linear Programming (HFH-LP) model that is already working and includes both conventional and autonomous equipment on representative West Midland arable farms[1], the model will be further adapted to include activities undertaken on typical UK beef and sheep farms (e.g. feeding practice changes, manure management, hedges and tree planting etc.), as well as their effect on the farms carbon balance (see Further Information).

The student will receive additional training suited to working as an academic researcher, a public sector/industry researcher, or an agri-tech entrepreneur. Through this project the student will receive training and support as required in farm management economics, agricultural systems modelling, and linear programming, as well as gain practical experience in the application of carbon balance modelling and on-farm decision support. This MRes studentship opportunity will produce a researcher/professional capable of critically and pragmatically analysing the opportunities for net zero and other future challenges within the UK livestock sector. The student will be able to competently collate diverse data, develop and analyse GHG, environmental and economic model inputs.

The MRes (Agricultural Economics) Studentship - Tuition Scholarship is supported by the Worshipful Company of Butchers (WCB). The Worshipful Company of Butchers is one of the oldest of the 110 City of London Livery Companies, and they can trace their roots back to 975 AD. The Livery Company offers a unique centre-point to the British meat industry and is at the heart of one of the country’s biggest and most important trades.

Applications should be made through the HAU website: where further details of the project can also be found.

The deadline for uploading completed applications is 5 pm UK time on Monday, 4 July 2022. 

Further information can be found on the HAU website at and on the research training provided and MRes requirements at:

For informal enquiries on the project, applicants may contact the Director of Studies, Professor Karl Behrendt, through the staff directory: 

Only Home residents (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man & Channel Isles residents) may apply for the WCB Studentship, which covers operational funds and all tuition fees. 

All applicants must have:

  • One of the following:

o   UK honours degree (or equivalent) in Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness, Agriculture, or related fields, with a minimum 2.1 achievement in degree qualification (or equivalent)

o   Honours degree plus previous and appropriate research experience

o   Postgraduate diploma or equivalent (at merit or distinction)

  • Evidence of interest and experience in agricultural economics and the management of carbon in agricultural systems or evidence of a strong desire to learn.
  • The ability to work as part of a research team and self-motivation to take responsibility for their own work, and evidence to illustrate this.
  • A minimum level of competency in English. International applicants must be classed with an overall International English Language Test System (IELTS) grade of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. International applicants, or those whose first language is not English, may provide evidence of this by uploading their certificate. Alternatively, evidence of successful achievement of a degree taught in English may be sufficient. Please see the following link with regard to English Language requirements:

Desirable attributes include experience of applied modelling and data analysis skills, and evidence of written and verbal communication of scientific reports, and review or awareness of scientific literature in English.

Interview date - mid-late July

Course start date: 20th September 2022 

End date: August 2023

Further details:    Job description    
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Harper Adams University is one of the premier UK Higher Education institutions focused on the land-based and food supply chain sector. With around 2,800 undergraduate students, plus those completing postgraduate, research and CPD programmes, Harper Adams University is the UK's largest single provider of higher education for these subjects.  Programmes fall into eleven broad subject areas – but none operate in isolation. Community and collaboration are key at Harper Adams, meaning everyone, including staff, students and industry partners, benefits from a close network of knowledge and opportunity exchange. Situated in Shropshire, the campus and the surrounding area provide an excellent working and living environment for staff and students alike.

Harper Adams is consistently positioned highly in a range of national ratings, performance measures and league tables. The University has been the highest performing modern university in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for the last four years, climbing to 17th place in the overall league table. In the 2020 guide Harper Adams was named Modern University of the Year and runner-up University of the Year. In the 2019 Whatuni? Student Choice Awards, based on student reviews, Harper Adams won the Student Support category for the fifth time – the only university to have taken the title since the awards began - and won the category for best job prospects for a fourth year running. In the 2020 QS World Rankings for Agriculture and Forestry published in March 2020, Harper Adams was ranked first in the UK for academic reputation and second in the world for its reputation with employers.

Applied research is at the heart of the university’s activity, with the work of a thriving academic community underpinning both teaching and work with the industries allied to Harper. The 2014 Government Research Excellence Framework rated all of the university’s research as “of international quality”, and more than half was deemed “world leading” or “internationally excellent”.



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