Intensive silvopasture: spatial benefits

Economic, environmental and social benefits of intensive silvopasture: a spatial decision support system

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

29 October 2021

Campus

Launceston

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Intensive silvopastoral systems grow livestock, often cattle, in an intensively produced, leguminous tree understory, typically using leucaena as the fodder crop. These systems are very land-efficient, producing livestock, their feed and trees in the same landscape, at the same time with very good animal welfare. There is evidence that these systems can have considerable production and greenhouse has benefits under certain circumstances, by simultaneously having among the highest livestock yields while sequestering large amounts or carbon in the landscape and reducing enteric emissions. Currently, the range of their applicability is limited, especially by climate.

There is rapidly growing interest in the potential of these systems with a large literature base. This project proposes to review this literature to build a triple bottom line spatial decision support system which can indicate how to vary the elements of the intensive silvopastoral system with the landscape and climate, and to guide research on what would be needed for adoption in currently unsuitable areas. Considerable progress has been made with development of sterile varieties to address invasiveness, and dwarf varieties for browsing access. We know that similar work is needed to develop varieties or surrogate species for a greater range of rainfall tolerance and disease resistance, technologies to address labour limitation on larger properties and systems design to reduce risk of nitrous oxide emissions due to high protein intake and intensity of production.

The triple bottom line assessment could include analysis of fixed versus variable costs to indicate profitability with farm size, and the biodiversity assessment will feed into the richness versus resilience debate, analysing the value of habitat for farmland species. The assessment would have the potential to quantify the potential contribution of these systems to addressing GHG emissions and biodiversity stability.

Primary Supervisor

Meet A/Prof Matthew Harrison

Funding

Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Eligibility

The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • PhDs at UTAS require the equivalent to an Australian bachelors degree with upper second class Honours or higher
  • Must be willing to undertake domestic travel
  • Must be willing to work independently

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Science background with some experience of environmental and financial assessment

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience or interest in developing knowledge of spatial analysis

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, A/Prof Matthew Harrison, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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