PhD studentship - Closed, place now filled.

Sustainable Soil Management Approaches in Sugar Beet Production, funded by BBRO, led by the University of Lincoln.

PhD Studentship

Sustainable Soil Management Approaches in Sugar Beet Production

Supervisory Team: Dr Iain Gould, Dr Shaun Coutts, Dr Georgina Barratt (Industry Supervisor, BBRO)

We are offering a full 4-year PhD studentship funded by the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO). The successful candidate will join the team at the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT) at the University of Lincoln, based on our Riseholme Campus, working in close collaboration with BBRO, an organisation driving research and knowledge exchange to support the sugar beet industry in the UK.

Project Background

Healthy soils underpin not only our food production, but also a wealth of ecosystem services, such as greenhouse gas cycling, water regulation, and a functioning biological habitat. Soil management in sugar beet systems faces its own unique challenges in comparison to other typical UK crops: on one hand, sugar beet photosynthesises for long periods of time, potentially sequestering lots of carbon in the process. On the other hand, seedbed conditioning and spring establishment faces its own challenges, and winter lifting can cause damage to soils. This PhD will explore soil management techniques in sugar beet systems, with a particular focus on how we can grow a healthy crop whilst also benefitting some of the ecosystem services our soils provide.

Research Aims

This research will focus on three key areas of sugar beet management:

  • Rooting Properties: How much root mass remains after a sugar beet crop, and will tillage management impact on this?
  • Rotational Impacts: Will changes in long term crop rotation have an impact on soil quality in sugar beet systems?
  • Top Management: How can we best manage sugar beet aboveground ‘Tops’ biomass to return more organic matter to the soil?

Across these themes, the successful student will implement a range of field sampling and in situ soil measurements, alongside soil physical, chemical, and biological analysis. The project experimental approach will range from small scale pot trials up to large field trials. Work will be supported by the supervisory and technical teams within LIAT and BBRO.

Person Specification and Requirements

The successful candidate will be given the opportunity to work across disciplines and engage with colleagues from the University of Lincoln and stakeholders from the agricultural industry. They will benefit from the opportunity to present work at BBRO stakeholder events and both industry and academic conferences. The candidate will join an existing cohort of PhD students in agriculture and agri-food technology within Lincoln, alongside BBRO’s strong PhD student cohort from five partner universities. Working across both of these institutes will offer the candidate a fantastic range of training and networking opportunities in both academic and industry setting.

Applicants should possess a good honours degree in agriculture, biology, environmental sciences, soil science, or an associated subject. Experience of soil and plant analysis is desirable, particularly analysis of soil physical properties, root analysis, or experience in soil carbon analysis.

Field work experience will be essential to the role, as applicants must be willing to travel and work in outdoor agricultural settings. The successful candidate will be working closely with industry collaborators and will need to demonstrate excellent communication skills. Past work experience in an industry setting, or working with multiple stakeholders is desirable.


A fully-funded studentship including tuition fees and stipend is available for home applicants for up to four years, as well as funding for research consumables, travel, and participation in conferences.

How to Apply

To apply for this studentship, please send your CV and personal statement to Dr Iain Gould at with the subject as “PhD Studentship Application”.

The personal statement should outline your interest in the project and also explain how your qualifications and experience meet the requirements (one page). Please include contact details for at least two academic references. Selected candidates may be invited to interview (online or in person).

Application Deadline: November 2023

For further information, please contact Dr Iain Gould at at the University of Lincoln, or Dr Georgina Barratt at BBRO.

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We are set up jointly by British Sugar plc and the National Farmers' Union.

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