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PhD Studentship - Turning up the heat on soil carbon: Quantifying carbon dynamics and climate resilience of agave production in Mexico


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Friday 31 May 2024
Reference:  SCI265

Supervisor: Hannah Cooper

Subject Area: Sustainable Agriculture

Research Title: Turning up the heat on soil carbon: Quantifying carbon dynamics and climate resilience of agave production in Mexico

Research Description

"Climate change is one of the most significant challenges facing the world today, and agriculture is both a contributor to and a casualty of climate change. The impact of agriculture on the environment has been increasingly scrutinised, as it is responsible for 13% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, regenerative farming offers a promising solution to reduce the impact of agriculture on climate change and increase the resilience of farming systems to climate change impacts. Our recent work has demonstrated substantial benefits for adopting regenerative practices in terms of long-term climate resilience. However, the benefits and trade-offs from such transitions are poorly quantified, and there remains little understanding of how such changes can contribute to the decarbonisation and increased sustainability of supply chains.

Agave is an important crop that underpins the tequila supply chain. Agricultural production can have substantial adverse environmental impacts, including soil degradation, challenges with water availability and significant greenhouse gas emissions. Regenerative agriculture describes a range of more sustainable farming practices and is of growing interest across the agriculture sector due to its potential to bring multiple benefits through carbon sequestration and storage in soils, benefits to biodiversity, and increased climate resilience. Regenerative practices have significant potential in agave production, but benefits are poorly quantified, particularly in terms of impacts on yield and carbon storage, and little is known about how these will impact supply chains or smallholder farmer livelihoods. This project addresses this challenge.

The aim of the studentship is to generate new evidence concerning the potential carbon sequestration arising from adopting regenerative practices under current and future climates. This project will therefore ultimately support the transition to more sustainable supply chains and support the increased climate resilience of agave production. "

Award Start Date: 01/10/2024

Duration of Award: 48 months

Terms and Conditions

Funding consists of a stipend paid at UKRI rates (currently £18,622 pa), tuition fees, and up to £4000 pa to cover research costs (e.g., travel for fieldwork and equipment). Owing to funding constraints for tuition fees, this opportunity is only available to UK students.

Applicant Qualification Requirements

Applicants should have an interest in environmental or agricultural science, geography or an equivalent subject. They should hold, or be expected to obtain, a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 or equivalent in a physical or environmental science subject. Candidates with an additional qualification (i.e. Masters) will be looked on favourably. Experience of fieldwork and/or modelling will be desirable.

How to Apply

Cover letter explaining why you feel you are a suitable candidate (maximum 1 page), alongside a curriculum vitae should be emailed to

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