PhD Studentship: Developing Tools for Precision Horticulture: Manipulating Plant Growth to Reduce In-Field Crop Variability

Harper Adams University - Crop and Environment Sciences Department

(Three and a half years funding)

Harper Adams University (HAU) has the above research studentship available in the Crop and Environment Sciences Department.  The project is funded by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd, G’s Growers Ltd and Barfoots of Botley Ltd and involves two months on placement at each of the industry partners during the study period.  

Technology is advancing very quickly the area of field crop production, providing growers with new tools to measure and manage their crops using precision input management systems.  This project will study whole head lettuce and purple sprouting broccoli as examples of transplanted, high value leafy vegetable crops and aims to:

  • Identify the environmental factors that cause variation in transplant size in leafy vegetables.
  • Optimise treatments to minimise transplant size variation.
  • Identify treatments to alter relative growth rates of plants from transplant to maturity.
  • Establish the underlying physiological basis of the treatment(s).
  • Demonstrate the practical application of growth rate manipulation in lettuce and brassica crops.

This project will give the student training and experience in plant physiology, agronomy, soil and crop assessments and spatial statistical analyses as well as experience of the technical challenges of commercial crop production.

Applications should be made through the HAU website: where further details of the project can also be found.

The deadline for uploading completed applications is 5 pm UK time on Friday, 4 May 2018.

Further information can be found on the HAU website at and on the research training provided and PhD progression requirements in the Postgraduate Research Students Handbook at:

For informal enquiries on general aspects of research degrees at HAU, applicants may contact Mrs Viv Slann, Research Students Administrator ( For informal enquiries on the project, applicants may contact the Director of Studies Dr Jim Monaghan through the staff directory:

The studentship includes tuition, bench and writing up fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£14,777 per annum). The studentship will commence in September 2018.

All applicants must have a minimum of an upper second class UK honours degree, or equivalent, in Agriculture, Plant Biology, Environmental Studies or related sciences or an MSc degree in the same areas. Applicants are also expected to have some knowledge of field crop production systems.   A good working knowledge of statistics and statistical analysis software is also required. 

A minimum level of competency in English is required. Where necessary, applicants need to be classed as an overall IELTS grade 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component. Please see the following link with regard to English Language requirements:

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Midlands of England