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November 28, 2018

Landscape diversity underpins sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa

The previous secretary of the United Nations, Kofi Anan, called for a uniquely African green revolution in response to the need to increase productivity while reducing the negative impacts of industrialised agriculture on the environment and societies. Part of the solution will be to optimise the diversity of crops grown in space and time. Small holder farms already grow a rich diversity of crops but there is a tendency to move towards larger areas of maize which may reduce resource use efficiency and resilience of food production in the face of pest, weed and disease pressure. In this project you will work with teams in Africa and the UK to implement cutting edge techniques for analysing crop diversity and landscape structure using satellite data. Your work will be integrated within a wider project quantifying the role of crop diversity in underpinning sustainable intensification.

Specifically, you will contribute data and models on the role of semi natural habitats and landscape heterogeneity in providing the ecosystem services that support agricultural production such as pest control and pollination. The outputs you will generate (maps of distribution of different crops and metrics of landscape heterogeneity and connectivity) will be used to predict the resilience of production in contrasting landscapes and cropping systems. You will have the opportunity to travel to Africa (Kenya and Nigeria) several times in the project.

Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science.

For further details contact Jon Storkey (jonathan.storkey@rothamsted.ac.uk).