Meeting environmental targets while maintaining profitability for the sheep and beef sectors in Wales – PhD Studentship


Meeting environmental targets while maintaining profitability for the sheep and beef sectors in Wales

School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University

Project ID: BUK2E032

Annual Stipend: £14,483

Application Deadline: January 20th. 2020.

Applications are invited for a three-year research PhD studentship in developing integrated environmental and economic guidance for livestock farmers. The studentship is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2 East) ( ) in collaboration with Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC). It will cover tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend, as well as a travel budget for workshop and conference attendance. The studentship is available from February 2020.

 The UK livestock sector is challenged by enhanced environmental targets that will inevitably influence farm management options in the future. Given the increasing consumer demand for red meat produced in an environmentally sustainable way, there is also likely to be considerable pressure for producers to demonstrate that such issues are at the heart of their businesses (e.g. as an obligation of contracts with processors). However, this is likely to provide a challenge for many in the sector, and there is likely to be a need for a system or tool to facilitate this transition. This studentship will develop an integrated and Welsh specific tool for assessing how on-farm management options influences the environmental and economic performance of businesses, addressing the following objectives:

  • Integration of detailed economic and environmental data at the farm level
  • Modelling the environmental and economic effect of farm management practices and policies
  • Scaling up the results from farm to national level
  • Through collaboration with farmers and HCC, provide the results in a way that can be understood and used by farmers

HCC ( is the red meat levy board in Wales, within its remit is the funding of research that will reduce the environmental footprint of red meat production; which it views as both a major challenge and opportunity for the sector in Wales.

The project will develop an integrated model to allow assessment of the complex environmental and financial impacts of interacting management decisions and allow the identification of reliable measures of successful outcomes. The student will work with farmers and HCC to assess the barriers and opportunities from using such a tool, to optimise the user-friendliness of e-tools, and to develop an appropriate user guide. The tool will help farmers optimise their management strategies to achieve reductions in greenhouse gases, ammonia and water use, in a way that does not compromise profitability. An annual assessment will indicate the extent those farm businesses are improving their economic and environmental performance.

This is one of four PhD studentships we are currently advertising as a partnership with HCC; the others being:

  • Strategies to reach zero carbon sheep and beef production on Welsh farms
  • Strategies for meeting targets for ammonia emissions and nitrate leaching reduction for Welsh beef and sheep farms
  • Determining the potential for precision grazing to improve the resilience of livestock production systems

Applicants should hold a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in agriculture, economics, environmental science or a related degree. Experience of modelling or programming is desirable.

Bangor Supervisors: James Gibbons ( & Prysor Williams (

External supervisor: Professor Mike Lee (Rothamsted Research)

For informal enquiries, please contact James Gibbons or Prysor Williams

Closing Date: January 20th. 2020

To apply : please send a CV and covering letter to James Gibbons ( & Prysor Williams ( , cc to Penny Dowdney (

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships East (KESS 2 East) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for East Wales.

Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in East Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.