Rothamsted Research is seeking a postdoctoral scientist with a PhD in animal science, grazing behavior, grazing livestock production systems, or a similar field for a two-year position funded through the Cornwall Agri-Tech initiative, which is supported by an investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The global ruminant livestock industry is being tasked by policy makers and stakeholders with increasing output whilst reducing net environmental impact. Moreover, reducing the use of human-edible animal feeds and increasing meat produced from grass is becoming critical to cope with the increasing global demand of food and the limited global area of cultivable land to produce grain crops.
This project will test the economic and environmental potential of TechnoGrazing, a model of Managed Intensive Cell Grazing developed in New Zealand in 1986 by Kiwitech International Ltd, to provide a solution for increased production from grassland. The model introduced to the UK by Precision Grazing Ltd uses specialist design, infrastructure equipment and software to enable more energy (pasture) to be produced and utilised by grazing animals. Peer-reviewed papers have demonstrated that the model can increase the production per ha, increasing business gross margin by over 100%.
However, only anecdotal evidence exists to support the reduced net environmental cost of this system. In the context of government policy and industry long term viability, this information is an essential missing component. The project will provide the evidence to quantify the net environmental impact compared to current baseline UK production models, thus providing data to inform policy and industry direction. Ultimately, it aims to provide a model for sustainable intensification which can be implemented at individual farm level to secure the viability of the industry.
The successful candidate will work with a dairy x beef weaned calves herd at Rothamsted Research, North Wyke to measure and compare the animal performance, pasture productivity and quality, economic results and the environmental impact on soil, air and water from two contrasting grazing systems with dairy x beef cattle: Techno Grazing vs set-stocking. They will evaluate for two consecutive years soil emissions, soil water composition, soil health indicators, pasture productivity and nutritional composition, animal growth rate, meat quality, and animal behaviour, health and welfare. Different metrics and indicators will be calculated in order to define the best practice for the future UK beef production. During the development of the study field days and workshops will be carried out to integrate farmers and discuss the outputs of the experiment.
Demonstrated understanding of beef cattle and grazing livestock systems is essential (and preferably within temperate grasslands). Experience in, or knowledge of, pasture productivity measurements and animal handling is essential. Furthermore, the successful applicant will be able to work collaboratively with academic and industry partners, will have excellent written and verbal communication skills in English, competence in data analysis, and a clear history of publication in peer-reviewed journals would be beneficial.
As a member of Rothamsted’s Grazing Livestock Systems Cluster that strives to promote economic, social and environmental sustainability of ruminant production systems in the UK and beyond, demonstrated willingness to make their research relevant to real-world agricultural producers is also essential.
Deadline for application 18 Feb 2018
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