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Valorisation strategies for optimising the further use of chicken manure and reducing its negative environmental impact (PhD project) Fully-funded studentship

Agriculture & Environment

Location:  Newport, Shropshire TF10 8NB
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed Term - 48 Months
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Sunday 28 August 2022
Reference:  RD-PHD-R1-MK-22

Primary supervisor: Dr Marie Kirby, mkirby@harper-adams.ac.uk, Department of Agriculture and Environment

Non-academic partner: Wykes Engineering Limited

Project Title: Valorisation strategies for optimising the further use of chicken manure and reducing its environmental impact

Project description:



The UK has successful poultry layer and broiler industries which generate a significant volume of chicken manure as a by-product of producing eggs and poultry meat. Chicken manure is typically applied to agricultural land to provide vital crop nutrients to aid crop growth. Chicken manure contains high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous, which if applied inappropriately, can leach into surrounding watercourses causing eutrophication. However, these nutrients could be extracted from the chicken manure and valorised into useful products for further applications. Not only would this reduce the risk of eutrophication, it will provide a new revenue for poultry producers and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from this industry.


This fully funded, four-year PhD will work with a range of industrial partners to investigate the current commercial practises of treating broiler chicken manure before experimenting with more novel technology approaches. In conjunction with Wykes Engineering Ltd, the use of anaerobic digestion to treat chicken manure will be developed to investigate specific nutrient removal from the anaerobic digestate and recover these crop nutrients into valorised fertiliser-type products. These fertiliser-type products will be tested for crop uptake efficiency using glasshouse pot crop trials. Cost-benefit analyses of current commercial practise will be examined and compared to this novel valorisation strategy. The aim of this PhD is to deliver practical recommendations and technology solutions to aid commercial development in this area.


Harper Adams University has purpose-built facilities for undertaken anaerobic digestion research, alongside the Crop and Environment Research Centre (CERC) with dedicated facilities for glasshouse and field crop trials. The student will be expected to have a good knowledge of the poultry industry, previous experience using different technology approaches and sound practical laboratory skills.

The expected start date for the studentship is September 2022. The studentship will cover the current Home tuition fee rate plus a yearly stipend set at the UKRI figure – currently £16,062. International applicants would need to  be able to fund the difference between Home and Overseas fees which is currently £10,330 per year with the first year’s fee’s being paid in full before Visa documentation can be issued. The student will be registered for a PhD at Harper Adams University and based at Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire, UK.  

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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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