“Mobilisation, transport and attenuation of soil phosphorus fractions in groundwater-fed agricultural catchments”
Strategies are required for intensive agricultural land that minimise phosphorus (P) loss from soils to water. Excessive soil P is mostly transferred to waters via surface pathways but, in well-drained soils, there is a potential for a substantial proportion of P transfer to waters via subsurface pathways. Even so, there are gaps in the existing knowledge of P mobilisation and attenuation processes in the subsurface continuum. Due to differences in soil chemistry such processes are often studied in isolation, and soil P retention and release are seldom connected to observed data at the catchment scale.
This project proposes to address these issues at the process scale in soil profiles and within three catchments with well-drained soils of different P buffering capacity. Colloidal P mobilisation or attenuation will be characterised by examining the speciation of P in groundwater and mechanisms of P release and retention from soil will be further explored. This will provide the basis for identifying Critical Source Areas of P for discharge to groundwater and exploring ways to minimise such losses.
Applicants should have a good primary degree (First or Second Class Honours - Chemistry, Soil or Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, Geography etc.) and a MSc in an appropriate discipline is desirable. The successful candidate should be highly self-motivated and be prepared for laboratory work and extended periods of field work with modern analytical equipment. A full EU driving licence is also required.
The three-year Fellowship is a joint research project between Teagasc, Johnstown Castle and the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Ulster University. The student will be based mostly at the Teagasc Environment Research Centre at Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford and will be registered at Ulster University, working under the supervision of Prof Phil Jordan in association with Teagasc supervisors (Dr Per-Erik Mellander, Dr Karen Daly and Dr Owen Fenton). Periods of research training and laboratory work will be undertaken at Ulster University. The Fellowship will lead to the award of PhD and will start in September 2017 after the most suitable candidate is appointed.
Dr Per-Erik Mellander, Agricultural Catchments Programme, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland Phone +353 (0)53 9171315