Upgrading and implementing mathematical models to increase nitrogen use efficiency of lactating dairy cows (PhD Scholarship)

Upgrading and implementing mathematical models to increase nitrogen use efficiency of lactating dairy cows

Aberystwyth University, IBERS

Project ID: AU30024
Annual Stipend: £14,340
Application Deadline: 6th September 2018

Increased efficiency of N use in dairy production is proposed as a key action to reduce environmental N contamination, and mathematical models provide a powerful tool to help with this. We are planning to use two models: the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS; a cow-based model), developed at Cornell University in the US, and the Cattle Nitrogen use Efficiency (CNE; a herd-based model), developed at Aberystwyth University. These models will be further updated to include amino acid metabolism (CNCPS), and heifer growth, cattle fertility and economics (CNE), to increase their accuracy and their commercial potential. Model updates will form part of a larger project (H2020-MSCA project: CowficieNcy) involving several partners from different countries, among them Cornell University.

For the work related to this PhD studentship, it is expected that the student will be involved in the update of the CNE model, particularly related to heifer growth. Dairy heifer rearing constitutes the second highest cost for dairy farmers, and represents a significant loss of nutrients to the environment. Similarly, in terms of N use efficiency the replacement of a cow within a herd represents the second largest loss of N following losses during milk production. Therefore, an improved heifer model would be expected enable better heifer growth strategies and overall improvement of herd N use efficiency.

In parallel, we will survey farms in Wales to gather data about whole-farm N balance. This studentship will help Aberystwyth University strengthen its links with Wynnstay, a major feed supplier in Wales, in the development of Welsh knowledge exchange activities with the dairy farming sector. For this part of the project, we will gather data that will be useful for Wynnstay and provide high level support on farm nutrient management, enabling model simulations to be performed. Based on our analysis, we will deliver a report to each farm with proposed actions for improvement. Depending on proposed interventions, we will visit and sample farms every 6 months, and provide advice in the form of individual improvement programmes based on upgraded models.

The prospective applicant should have a minimum of a 1st or good 2:1 in a relevant degree (Animal or Veterinary Science) and be available to take up the studentship by the 1st of October 2018. An MSc degree in these areas is encouraged. The PhD candidate should be familiar with animal handling

and willing to work with dairy cattle. Good mathematical skills and handling of large datasets are required.

The project is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government. KESS II PhD scholarships are collaborative awards with external partners. (Applicants need to only apply, they do not need to search for partners.)

To apply, please submit the following to the Postgraduate Admissions Office (address below) by 5th August 2018:

  1. A completed Research Programme Application Form, two references. Application and reference forms may be downloaded from http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/
  2. A completed KESS II Participant proposal form (put the reference number AU30024 in the top right hand box of the application form) and an up-to-date CV. KESS II application forms are available to download at the link below.

https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/rbi/business/services/initiatives/kess/currentscholarshipvacanciesandap plicationforms/

  1. A PhD proposal of up to 1,000 words where you expand on your experience and interests and describe why you are a good candidate for this research studentship. Please refer to the Project Description.

Value of Award: A stipend of £14,340 (rising in accordance with inflation for the remaining two years). Each scholarship has an additional budget for travel, equipment/consumables and training to support your research. KESS II PhD Scholarship holders do not pay fees.

Length: Full-time for 3 years. (Theses must be submitted 6 months after the funded three year study period.)

Training: The achievement of a Postgraduate Skills Development Award (PSDA) is compulsory for each KESS II scholar (The PSDA is based on a 60 credit award, which is an additional award to the PhD).

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply for a KESS II award, you must be resident, upon starting the scholarship, in the Convergence Area of Wales and you must be able to take paid employment in the Convergence area on completion of the scholarship.

The Convergence Area means the following counties of Wales:

Isle of Anglesey Gwynedd Conwy Denbighshire Ceredigion Carmarthenshire Pembrokeshire Swansea Neath Port Talbot Bridgend Rhondda Cynon Taff Caerphilly Torfaen

For further student eligibility criteria related to the individual projects, please view the details of the individual project above.

Informal enquiries should be made to Dr Jon Moorby at jxm@aber.ac.uk or 01970 823074

Address for applications:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Recruitment & Admissions
Student Welcome Centre
Aberystwyth University
Aberystwyth
SY23 3FB

Quote Reference AU30024

Closing date for applications 6th September 2018