Call now closed: Applications for Postgraduate Studentship projects

(please note the update to the pork sector priorities below*)

To further research currently undertaken through the AHDB Postgraduate Studentship Programme, AHDB is making funding available for up to 9 PhD studentships. Starting in 2018 these studentships will deliver new experts and science with practical benefits across agriculture and horticulture.

This invitation is open to all UK universities, colleges and research institutes. Organisations will be expected to demonstrate a record of excellence in the specific area of research as well as providing high-quality and well managed research degree programmes.

The aim of this programme is to:

  • Deliver useable scientific developments that are relevant to industry priorities
  • Help develop the next generation of technical experts for the agriculture and horticulture industries.

Applicants will be expected to demonstrate that their proposals meet the priorities of at least one of the AHDB sectors participating in the call. The specific priorities are detailed below and form part of the overarching AHDB Strategy (please refer to AHDB Strategy 2017-2020 Inspiring Success). Applications that address issues in more than one sector are also welcomed.


Cattle (Beef & Dairy Sectors) – Joint AHDB/AFCP Award

AHDB, in partnership with the AgriFood Charities Partnership (AFCP) is inviting submissions in the area of reducing antimicrobial use, whilst improving cattle health and welfare through a number of possible approaches. Proposals may be relevant to dairy or beef cattle or both and are likely to address one or more of the following priority areas:

  • Improved understanding of when youngstock require antibiotic treatment and what is the best treatment option to be followed
  • Improved understanding of non-antibiotic based treatment options for youngstock
  • Improved understanding of ways to improve management of youngstock to reduce the incidence of disease e.g. respiratory disease.
  • Options for reducing the pathogen burdens and disease spread in youngstock rearing systems
  • Understanding interactions between management factors such as nutrition and stress, and immune function and vaccine efficacy

Shortlisted proposals will be shared with AFCP and relevant member charities for consideration for joint funding.

In 2018 AHDB Horticulture will fund up to 3 PhD studentships. Applications should be based on a specific area of horticulture including Hardy Nursery Stock (HNS), Field Vegetables (FV), Soft Fruit (SF), Tree Fruit (TF), Protected Edibles and Mushrooms (PEM) and Protected Ornamentals, Bulbs and Outdoor Flowers (POBOF).
Applicants for PhD funding with AHDB Horticulture must be able to clearly demonstrate within their application that the studentship addresses industry priorities and supports the long-term profitability and sustainability of the horticultural industry in one of the three sectors above. As the relevant Horticulture Crop Sector Panels are involved in assessing studentship proposals, applicants are strongly advised to refer to their priority pages when preparing an application:

Market Intelligence (MI)
AHDB MI will consider applications that support econometric analysis of key trade and policy issues in the agricultural sector, and that are in line with the broader AHDB strategy. Applications that assess the impact of changes in agricultural and/or trade policy and assess the impact on farm structure, size, output, prices and incomes will be welcome, along with broader considerations that will effect industry resilience going forwards.

Pork (please see updated priorities below)*
AHDB Pork welcomes applications for PhD projects that align with the objectives of the Pork component of the  AHDB Strategy  “Inspiring success” We are also specifically looking for applications to investigate optimum photoperiod/s necessary for optimal sow productivity on English indoor pig farms without compromising animal welfare. The objectives of this work are as follows:

  • To establish the optimal photoperiod for service housing (weaning to oestrus and up to transfer to gestation housing)
  • To establish the optimal photoperiod for gestation/dry period
  • To establish the optimal photoperiod for lactation for sows
  • To combine these photoperiods into a holistic approach to sow lighting for optimal productivity
  • To monitor progeny from litters from birth to slaughter reared under alternative photoperiods in order to determine any impact on life time performance

If additional funding is required for specialist experimental costs, then this must be detailed within the application. AHDB Pork will help select potential candidates put forward by academic institutions via interview. AHDB will be running finisher lighting trials in parallel, which are due to start Winter 2017. Applications that show potential for early start dates will be viewed favourably.  . 

In 2018 AHDB Potatoes will fund up to 2 PhD studentships. Applications must be able to clearly demonstrate that the studentship addresses industry priorities and supports the long-term profitability and sustainability of the potato industry.  Innovation is an important driver and AHDB Potatoes will consider applications for projects on innovative precision technologies to improve water use and nutrient management, crop protection and storage.  Applications are encouraged where there is co-funding of the PhD studentship and industry engagement.

Cereals & Oilseeds
For this call, Cereals & Oilseeds is not accepting applications for funding new studentships


Information for applicants
Funding levels - AHDB funding is in line with RCUK guidelines, currently up to £71,400 per studentship over the project lifetime (3 or 4 years). Where a different level of funding is requested the proposers should make this clear with appropriate justification.

Start dates - Appointed students will normally be expected to commence their studentship on 01 October 2018, but alternative start dates will be considered if necessary to attract high-calibre students.

Application process - Applications should be sent by email to before midday on Tuesday 03 October 2017. Please indicate clearly in the subject heading to which sector(s) the application is addressed. All proposals received before the deadline will be reviewed.

All organisations will be informed of the results of the selection process by Friday 19 January 2018.

Proposal form and guidelines:

If you are a student with a project idea please discuss this with your institute / university as we do not accept applications direct from students.

Enquiries and further information - Requests for further information should be sent to indicating to which sector(s) your question is addressed. Responses will be made publically available on a FAQ document.

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