Optimised management of upland pasture for economic and
environmental benefits
Applications are invited for a three-year research PhD studentship in sustainable intensification
of livestock systems at the School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography, Bangor
University, UK. The studentship is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships
(KESS) (http://www.higherskillswales.co.uk/kess/) in collaboration with the commercial partner
Hybu Cig Cymru / Meat Promotion Wales (http://hccmpw.org.uk/). It will cover tuition fees and
an annual tax-free stipend at the standard RCUK rate (around £14,000 per year), as well as a
travel budget for workshop and conference attendance. The studentship is available from 4th
January 2016 or as soon as possible thereafter.
Applicants should hold a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in
agriculture, animal science, environmental science or management, agricultural economics, or
a related degree. Please submit a CV (max 2 pages) together with a covering letter to Dr Prysor
Williams at [email protected] by 17:00 on 27th November 2015.
Detailed project outline:
Market pressures have led to a notable decline in the numbers of cattle in the uplands of the
UK. A continuation of this trend will compromise beef production and bring about other
undesirable impacts (e.g. poorer pasture quality, the spread of invasive species, and loss of
biodiversity). However, it is thought that much of the high costs of production could be abated
through better utilisation of grass as this would reduce reliance on bought-in feeds, as well as
improve growth rates and therefore reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emanating from
livestock. Improved grazing management therefore has real potential for economic and
environmental win–wins and improved resilience of production.
The work entailed within this project will provide real on-farm data about the economic and
environmental cost-benefits of upland grazing systems for cattle. The overall aim of the
programme is to determine how different grazing management approaches in upland cattle
systems can affect production efficiencies, and their respective economic and environmental
impacts. Briefly, this will be achieved via the following methods:
Cattle will be grazed on a traditional ‘set stocking’ system and a rotational grazing
system, with/without supplementary feeding and targeted fertiliser application rates.
Costs of production, livestock performance, and sward quality and quantity will be
determined under the different systems.
Using models, the economic and environmental effects of improved grassland
utilisation for beef suckler systems will be estimated at the farm-scale. The results will
also be up-scaled to the national level, evaluating the net effect on Welsh GHG
emissions and the resilience and economic performance of upland farms. Any changes
in local or regional patterns of production will also be used to assess changes in
aesthetics in Welsh upland landscapes.
The research will take place on a commercial farm with its own beef cattle and at Bangor
University’s own farm (Henfaes Research Centre). This studentship will link to another KESS
II studentship, entitled “Understanding the wider impacts of using livestock to control bracken”,
which will focus on the environmental cost–benefits of using cattle as a means to control
bracken. Collectively, both projects will help identify methods for sustainable intensification of
livestock systems, helping to deliver economic and environmental benefits.
Background to the school:
The School of Environment, Natural Resources & Geography at Bangor University is
internationally renowned for its cross-disciplinary research on sustainable land use, and has a
broad expertise in the fields of agriculture and environmental sciences. The project will build on
a number of relevant existing and forthcoming projects at Bangor on sustainable intensification
of livestock production systems. We have a wealth of staff and state-of-the-art facilities for labbased and field-based experiments. The project directly addresses two of Hybu Cig Cymru’s
priorities: Grassland and forage management, and Development of technologies to increase
production efficiencies. The student will benefit from a strong link to industry and being part of
a bigger team working on related projects.
Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) 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 West Wales and the Valleys.

PhD studentship in sustainable intensification of livestock systems