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Precision Livestock Farming Economics

Research Office

Location:  Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB
Salary:  As per advert
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed Term - 36 Months - Up to 36 months
Closing Date:  23.59 hours GMT on Monday 13 December 2021
Reference:  RD-PHD-50KB-R-R1

PhD Studentship (36 months funding)

Background 

There is increasing demand for livestock products from emerging economies and increasing pressure on livestock systems to improve efficiency of production and profitability while reducing their environmental footprint. Precision livestock farming (PLF) is a potential solution to meet these challenges and capture opportunities. PLF is the management of individual livestock and their environment by continuous automated real-time monitoring and control of production, health and animal well-being, and environmental impacts. With the ongoing development of technology that can modify the production environment of individual animals and sensors that can capture more and more diverse data at lower costs, the capacity of innovative agri-tech to achieve PLF is rapidly expanding. Hence, there is a need to understand what current and future technology can do for the economic performance and sustainability of livestock systems.

Project Objectives

The appointment of an Elizabeth Creak Fellow at Harper Adams University, provides a unique opportunity for the fellow to develop their own research focus within the field of PLF Economics under the supervision of an experienced multi-disciplinary team. We welcome applicants who wish to focus their research on any livestock sector (for example, dairy, beef, sheep, pork, poultry, or goat production) to address challenges faced by the sector and define the economics of any opportunities to overcome these challenges through the use of PLF technology, process or decision support. 

To achieve this outcome the fellow will develop and evaluate systems for data integration, analysis, modelling and visualisation that support farmer decision making and leverage the potential value of PLF technology in a practical commercial setting. This research will utilise sensor, production, economic and ,market data to assess the economic feasibility of PLF technology to improve livestock farming profitability and sustainability. 

The fellow will receive commercially relevant training suited to working as a career academic, a public sector/industry researcher or an agri-tech entrepreneur. Through this project the fellow will receive training and support as required in farm management economics, agricultural systems modelling and data science, as well as gain practical experience in the application of precision livestock technologies to farming systems and on-farm decision support.

The Elizabeth Creak Fellowship is supported by the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust. The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust was established in memory of Elizabeth Creak, a former High Sheriff of Warwickshire, who previously ran a significant dairy farm. Born in 1926, Elizabeth Creak graduated from McGill University in Montreal and worked for Allen Lane of Penguin Publishers before returning to England to work with her farmer uncle, eventually becoming his successor. She passed away in October 2013 and left the bulk of her estate to the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, to “support and encourage new blood in farming and finance projects to help farmers survive and thrive in their challenging modern environment”.

Applications can be made at the below link. The deadline for uploading completed applications is 5pm UK time on Monday, 13 December 2021.

Further information can be found on the Harper Adams University website at https://www.harper-adams.ac.uk/ and on the research training provided and PhD progression requirements in the Postgraduate Research Students Handbook at: https://www.harper-adams.ac.uk/documents/MPhil-PhD-Handbook.pdf

For informal enquiries on general aspects of research degrees at Harper Adams University, applicants may contact the Postgraduate Research Office (PGRoffice@harper-adams.ac.uk). For informal enquiries on the project, applicants may contact the Director of Studies, Professor Karl Behrendt, through the staff directory:  https://www.harper-adams.ac.uk/general/staff/profile/201544/Karl-Behrendt/ 

For Home PhD students (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man & Channel Isles students) the Elizabeth Creak Fellow studentship covers the tuition fee and training and project costs, plus provides a tax-free stipend at the UKRI rate for 2021-22 (£15,609) per annum). 

International students may apply for this studentship. International students are eligible to receive the same studentship as home students i.e. training and project costs and stipend, but they must be able to fund the difference between the home and international fee over the three years of the studentship. For 2021-22 the difference in fee is £10,030 per annum which must be paid in advance.

All applicants must have:

  • UK honours degree (or equivalent) in Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness, Agriculture, Data Science or related fields with a minimum of 2.1 achievement. Please provide a copy of your qualifications and dissertation or thesis as supporting evidence. 
  • Evidence of interest and experience in economics, data science and precision agriculture, 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 competency in English. International applicants must, if required (please refer to the Knowledge of English section of the UK Government’s Student Visa information) be classed with an overall International English Language Test System (IELTS) grade of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent.  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: https://www.harper-adams.ac.uk/university-life/international/english-language.cfm.

Applicants should provide a short project proposal (2 page maximum, 11 font Arial and 2cm margin minimum) with their application. The project proposal should provide a brief background statement to the livestock sector and the challenges they would like to address as part of their PhD research. It should also briefly indicate a proposed methodological approach to addressing their research questions. 

Further details:    Further Information    
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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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