NI farmer-funded research organisation AgriSearch has launched a PhD programme which aims to build the skills of a new generation of research scientists, enabling them to drive forward the competitiveness of the dairy, beef and sheep sectors.

As part of the initiative, Queen’s and Ulster Universities were asked to submit proposals against five priority themes set by AgriSearch around issues such as carbon balance on farms, soil health, sward productivity, legumes and use of artificial intelligence.

In total, 10 proposals came forward, with four shortlisted and three selected for funding. Two will be delivered by Queen’s in association with AFBI and will examine the effects of climate change on sward productivity and develop a system to do carbon footprinting on farms. The third research area will be delivered by Ulster University and relates to the potential use of artificial intelligence to optimise energy use on farm.

Each of the PhDs will last for four years, with funding of £30,000 per year provided by AgriSearch, and students encouraged to undertake a placement in a top-quality university outside of NI.

Both universities will now take forward a process to recruit students.

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