REP Project

June 17, 2022

The role of soil in climate mitigation through land management

Photo of bioenergy crop field experiment taken from the air

Location: UKCEH Lancaster

Duration: 8 weeks

The potential to use soil as a global sink for rising atmospheric CO2 has risen up the political and scientific agenda in the past few years. UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) and Lancaster University (LU) lead a series of projects that underpin new understanding regarding the role of management and biodiversity as a means to increase soil C sequestration.

The student will work with 2 major UKRI project teams. NERC Locked Up – The role of biotic and abiotic interactions in soil carbon persistence and BBSRC/NERC PBC4GGR: Bioenergy crops for greenhouse gas removals. Both projects are contributing evidence on land-based climate mitigation through improving understanding of the ways in which carbon is sequestered in soil, and how bioenergy crops could be used as a climate mitigation tool in combination with carbon capture and storage which are key NERC challenges.

For the student, working amongst these 2 teams, seeing the scope, design and making a small individual contribution to the work will provide an opportunity to understand how fundamental and applied research contribute evidence to policy and societal challenges. The student will work within experienced research teams and join project meetings. These projects offer an ideal opportunity for Envision REP activity.

The aims for this Envision REP project are:

  • To understand how land management can influence the potential for soil carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions reductions or greenhouse gas removals from agricultural systems.
  • To investigate how grassland plant composition and soil type interact to determine soil carbon sequestration

The student will contribute to fieldwork and lab work for 2 major bioenergy crop field experiments in Lancashire and East Yorkshire, sampling GHGs, and soil cores across 2 large replicated plot experiments, then conducting labwork to measure soil nutrients and soil microbial biomass. They will also join fieldwork on Mesocosm experiments to determine plant soil interactive effects on grassland carbon dynamics at the LU Hazelrigg research station. This will involve plant soil sampling and laboratory analyses of materials for the wider project.

During field sampling there are opportunities for the student to take additional samples or perform additional soil analyses focused on ecosystem services or soil health e.g. water infiltration, microbial composition etc. This aspect of the project will be discussed and developed with the student to encourage their intellectual input.

Supervisor: Jeanette Whitaker UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

To apply

We encourage applications from students from all backgrounds. Please check you meet the eligibility criteria before completing the online data collection form; this form is a mandatory part of the application process, but contains ‘prefer not to say’ options for all questions asked.

Once you have completed the online data collection form you will receive an email with the application form and details of how to apply to the supervisor. The application form should be completed and emailed to the lead supervisor along with a reference from your personal tutor.