Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, including nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas approximately 300 times more powerful at driving climate warming than carbon dioxide. Improving agricultural sustainability and meeting Net Zero targets requires substantial and rapid emissions reductions. Linseed is emerging as a popular alternative to oil seed rape as an oil crop, and requires lower fertiliser inputs. However, more information is needed to assess the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from linseed, and understand how linseed is regulating soil health. This project will address this challenge by quantifying how different linseed varieties regulate emissions and soil processes, with the aim of identifying plant traits for Net Zero crop varieties developed through future breeding programmes. Read more Read less

Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, largely driven by fertiliser applications. This includes the production of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas (GHG) approximately 300 times more powerful at driving climate warming than carbon dioxide over 100 years. Addressing this challenge requires optimisation of fertiliser management for individual crops, but also an understanding of the underlying processes.

Linseed is emerging as a popular replacement for oilseed rape (OSR), which is currently suffering from declining yields and therefore profits. Linseed has a growing market for human and animal consumption, primarily because it is high in omega-3 fatty acids. It thus currently has a high commercial value (£400-£500 per ton). This has led to a doubling of the area under cultivation in the UK in 2020 (33,000 ha). Moreover, compared to OSR, linseed generally requires lower fertiliser inputs (80–130 kg N ha-1 versus 125-280 kg N ha-1). Lower soil nitrogen inputs reduce soil nitrous oxide production, thereby potentially improving agricultural sustainability and contributing to UK net-zero targets and the 25-year environment plan.

This project will address this challenge through measuring differences in GHG emissions, crop physiology, and soil processes between contrasting linseed varieties under a range of management practices. It will make use of measurements in field trials, as well as laboratory studies allowing further experiments on the underlying mechanisms to be conducted under highly controlled conditions, before integrating both through modelling. This will ultimately allow the identification of both best management practices for linseed, but also ultimately the identification of specific crop traits that might underpin the future development of Net Zero varieties for linseed.

The successful student will receive training in a range of field, glasshouse and laboratory techniques, and modelling from an experienced supervisory team. The student will also have the option to undertake a placement with the project sponsor (Premium Crops), and present findings at national and international conferences.

At a glance

  • Application deadline29 Jul 2022
  • Award type(s)PhD
  • Start date29 Sep 2022
  • Duration of award3 years
  • EligibilityUK
  • Reference numberSWEE0184


Supervisors- 1st Supervisor: Dr Nick Girkin 
2nd supervisor: Dr Alice Johnston
3rd Supervisor: Dr Zoltan Kevei

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first or second class UK degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline, such as biology, plant sciences, chemistry, agricultural or environmental sciences.


Sponsored by the Cranfield Industrial PhD Partnership and Premium Crops, this fully funded studentship will provide an annual bursary of up to £16,000 (tax free) plus cover fees for three years for the successful candidate.

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be a UK national. We require that applicants are under no restrictions regarding how long they can stay in the UK i.e. have no visa restrictions or applicant has “settled status” and has been “ordinarily resident” in the UK for 3 years prior to start of studies and has not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education. (This does not apply to UK or EU nationals). Due to funding restrictions all EU nationals are eligible to receive a fees-only award if they do not have “settled status” in the UK.

Cranfield Doctoral Network

Research students at Cranfield benefit from being part of a dynamic, focused and professional study environment and all become valued members of the Cranfield Doctoral Network. This network brings together both research students and staff, providing a platform for our researchers to share ideas and collaborate in a multi-disciplinary environment. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge. A tailored programme of seminars and events, alongside our Doctoral Researchers Core Development programme (transferable skills training), provide those studying a research degree with a wealth of social and networking opportunities.

How to apply

For further information please contact:

Name: Dr Nick GirkinDr Alice JohnstonDr Zoltan Kevei

For further information contact us today:
T: (0) 1234 750111

If you are eligible to apply for the PhD, please complete the online PhD application form stating the reference No. SWEE0184