Use of field sensors to monitor nutrient fluxes in real-time from farming systems


An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, UWE Bristol.  This is a joint studentship with Hartpury University.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 January 2023.

The closing date for applications is 13 November 2022


Studentship details

The aim of this project is to evaluate available field sensor equipment to monitor carbon and nitrogen fluxes from farmland and develop additional novel sensors as required to improve monitoring opportunities. The University of West of England (UWE) are at the forefront of global environmental research and pioneering work into monitoring solutions. This project is a collaboration between Hartpury University and UWE to undertake applied field monitoring using the latest technologies. Hartpury has a 400-hectare mixed farm that is part of government Countryside Stewardship and Sustainable Farming Incentives schemes that require land management planning and monitoring. The project has two main parts, which are 1) Test and validate field sensor technology for nutrient flux monitoring and 2) Develop a methodology for real-time field monitoring. The hypothesis is that real-time carbon and nitrogen monitoring using field sensors will enhance farm nutrient management for more sustainable systems. The work would suit a student with an interest in environmental monitoring and farming systems. The objectives of the work are to:

  1. Review available sensor technology capable of field nutrient monitoring and identify opportunities for novel sensor development
  2. Collect a range of plant, soil and water samples to compare laboratory and field measurements and operational requirements
  3. Develop field monitoring protocols for effective sensor installation for commercial farm systems
  4. Evaluate the sensor components and operation within the farm system at Home Farm, Hartpury, for operation within commercial agricultural management systems.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Adrian Crew or 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 £17,668 per annum. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


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 ideas relating to the research project you are applying for
  • The contribution you are able to make to the Hartpury and UWE research communities and universities, in terms of both research and teaching.

Candidates should also be aware of the following:

The normal expectation is that applicants will hold at least a 2:1 or a Masters qualification from a UK university or a degree of comparable standing from a university outside the UK. The candidate’s degree relevant to the studentship should demonstrate their potential for practice-led research or alternative evidence of research aptitude. 

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 score 7.0 or TOEFL score 600 (or demonstrable equivalent). 

How to apply

 To apply for a PhD studentship you must send the following documents to

  • 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)
  • If English is not your first language, certification of English language qualification.


Closing date

The closing date for applications is 13 November 2022.

Further information

Interviews will take place on 23 November 2022.  If you have not heard from us by 30 November 2022, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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