Soil is one of the most complicated biological materials on our planet.

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The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists. The objectives of the IUSS are to promote all branches of soil science, and to support all soil scientists across the world in the pursuit of their activities. This website provides information for IUSS members and those interested in soil science.

PhD position in "Modelling Phosphorus cycle in EU agricultural soils and assessing land impact and land mitigation options"

ETH Zurich and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission are inviting applications for PhD positions through the Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme.

The CDP scheme intends to enhance the science-policy link through strategic collaborations with higher education institutions characterized by research excellence and international reputation, in order to: (1) Train a new generation of doctoral graduates in science and technology with a focus on the science-policy interface, able to understand the research needs at different stages of the policy cycle, capable of providing scientific support to policy and of using transferable skills in science communication and knowledge management. (2) Co-develop, co-host and co-supervise doctoral studies between higher education institutions and the JRC. (3) Strengthen collaboration between the JRC and higher education institutions by promoting mutual enhancement of related skills and competences, combining existing knowledge and capacities, and enhancing networking in key scientific areas.

Within the CDP framework, we are looking for a PhD candidate to enhance and apply a spatially explicit crop and ecosystem models integrated with life cycle impact assessment at EU scale. Agriculture is driving the global impacts on land and water use, as well as on eutrophication. The objective of this PhD will be to find most sustainable practices for food provision considering impacts on land and water related to the fertilization and irrigation. In the first phase, the PhD candidate will calibrate and validate the Phosphorus component of the JRC-D.3 biogeochemical modelling framework (based on DAYCENT model) at European scale, on top of the already available Carbon and Nitrogen components. This phase will also take advantage of the extensive soil sampling LUCAS, providing the main chemical soil properties and change for 2009 and 2015 at high spatial detail for ~22’000 geo-referenced samples distributed in 28 countries. In a second phase during her/his stay in ETHZ, the PhD candidate will integrate the modelling outputs (phosphorus flows from DayCent model) with a LCA framework (including inventory data and impact assessment results). At a final stage, the PhD candidate will analyze the system-wide effects of different forms of nutrient supply, including manure and other organic fertilizers (incl. mulching of intercrops), phosphate from mines and waste recovery, and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Organic fertilizer cannot be transported over larger distances and is therefore not everywhere available. Additional limitations of organic fertilizers include sub-optimal N/P ratios and requirement of land and water to either produce fertilizing intercrops or manure (as a by-product of meat and dairy). The PhD candidate will also analyze different supply chains and related environmental impacts, benefits and tradeoffs between various fertilization schemes with particular emphasis on the P cycle.

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