Application of machine learning to screen hyperspectral data for important soil and plant properties


An opportunity to apply for a prestigious funded full-time PhD with UWE Bristol, Hartpury University and the University of Bristol.

The studentship will be funded by UWE Bristol and Hartpury University.

Ref: 2223-JAN-HAS15

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023

The closing date for applications is 28 August 2022

Studentship details

The aim of this project is to apply hyperspectral technology to the measurement of soil and plant properties. Hyperspectral technologies, along with computer vision and machine learning techniques, allows for new and exciting studies and practical applications in agriculture (soils and plants). The monitoring of biophysical properties associated with land used for farming is of great importance to our understanding of sustainable production methods.

This project is a collaboration between Hartpury University and UWE Bristol to develop applied field monitoring solutions to improve land management decisions. This project will collect soil and plant spectral data from field and laboratory studies and use the latest computer vision and machine learning techniques to quantify important measures eg nutrient content, plant biotic and abiotic stresses.

As land management becomes increasingly data informed, including temporal and spatial changes in soil and plant properties, more timely and efficient use of information is needed to support farming practices. The project would suit a student with a background in computer science and interest in environmental studies.

The objectives of the work are to:

  • Review existing spectral technology, and its application for soil and plant monitoring 
  • Carry out studies to collect spectral data to train and validate prediction models
  • Propose a technological solution that enhances field monitoring.

This project is a collaboration between the UWE Bristol and Hartpury University. The PhD student will join a multidisciplinary research group and will receive excellent training and support from their supervisory team. 

For an informal discussion about the studentship please contact Dr Andy Wetten, Dr Joel Allainguillaume, Dr Wenhao Zhang or Professor Matt Bell.


The studentship is available from 1 January 2023 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £16,062 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years for Home and Overseas applicants.


Applications are invited from ambitious, self-motivated and enthusiastic candidates, with a background in a related discipline and must have a First-Class or Upper Second-Class BSc in an appropriately related subject area (for example, computer science, biology, environmental science) with a grounding in laboratory-based research.

Although not essential, a Master’s degree in a related discipline, and/or postgraduate experience is desirable. The candidate’s degree relevant to the studentship should demonstrate their potential for practice-led research.

The following criteria will be taken into account when considering applications:

  • The strength of your professional and academic profile, as demonstrated through previous study and/or professional experience.
  • The quality, invention and viability of your ideas relating to this research.
  • Applicants whose first language is not English require a recognised English language qualification.
  • The minimum entry requirement is GCSE English at grade C or above or IELTS.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-JAN-HAS15.

Supporting documentation:

  • a curriculum vitae (maximum 3 pages)
  • copies of academic transcripts
  • a covering letter outlining your suitability for the studentship
  • a recent piece of critical writing you have completed (max 3000 words)
  • proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application.

Therefore, please have these available when you complete the application form.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.  

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 28 August 2022.

Further information

Interviews will take place on week commencing 10 September 2022. If you have not heard from us by 30 September 2022, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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