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Reference CTP-SAI-070

Assessing efficient application and emission reduction from using low carbon footprint fertilisers in potato agronomy

Reference CTP-SAI-070

Assessing efficient application and emission reduction from using low carbon footprint fertilisers in potato agronomy

Professor Ruben Sakrabani, Cranfield University,
Mr Gary Collins, PepsiCo


With the price of mineral fertilisers increasing and the state of soil health decreasing, innovative solutions are needed to meet crop nutrient demands whilst ensuring that sufficient organic matter is conserved in the soil. One of such solution can be in the form of organo-mineral fertiliser (OMF). OMFs are a new concept that take organic waste products such as livestock manure or crop residues and combines them with reduced mineral fertilisers to produce a low carbon footprint product. This project will focus on potatoes as it is a key crop in the UK. Potatoes are grown in ridges which causes a lot of destruction in soil structure. OMF may play a role in not only providing the nutrient requirements but also provide organic matter to better preserve soil structure. The aim of this project will be to assess efficacy of OMF as a low carbon footprint fertiliser for potato production in the UK. 


The objectives are :

1.To assess mode of applying OMF to potato ridges to ensure optimum uptake of nutrients and minimise loss to the environment, and improve aggregate stability of soils

2. To evaluate optimum application of OMF to release nutrients to meet crop demand at its key growth stages

3. To demonstrate impact of OMF on carbon stock in soil, root biomass and wider environment.

4. To evaluate the total carbon footprint for application, use and sequestration compared with a standard mineral fertiliser.

This is a timely and fantastic project involving collaboration with PepsiCo on their potato field sites located at various sites in the UK. We will utilise a novel form of OMF based on carbon capture technology pioneered by CCm Technologies Limited. We will carry out field experiments to assess efficacy of OMF as fertilisers. This will be coupled with more controlled glass house studies to unravel mechanisms on how OMF mineralise in soil and provide nutrients to meet potato demand. There will also be complementary measurements on greenhouse gas emissions and diffuse pollution to ensure the OMF can be truly classified as a sustainable low carbon footprint fertiliser


The student will be registered with and based at Cranfield University and will work in collaboration with PepsiCo


Students will have access to training in key bioscience areas (soil science, plant science, statistics) and generic soft skills such as oral presentation, written communication, academic journal writing, all facilitated through Cranfield Doctoral Training Programme to enhance employability and research capability. This will be offered through our in-house training scheme organised under DATES (Cranfield portal for courses) and through external inputs where necessary via specialist consultants. The student will be trained in laboratory methods for specialist analysis in soil science and use of specialist instrumentations such as ICPMS, GCMS. The student will have opportunities to use state-of-the-art facilities and collaborate closely with PepsiCo and present their work in national and international conferences. There will be opportunities to attend selected MSc modules at Cranfield University to upskill on suitable topics such as soil science and analytical chemistry.

The CTP – SAI ( is a groundbreaking partnership between leading businesses, charities and research providers offering outstanding training for the agri-food sector

All CTP-SAI students will receive the Leadership and Management training provided by MDS ( and will create their Personal Development Plan (PDP) to identify their development needs and areas of strength. Each student will receive individual coaching and mentoring with regards to their career plans and skills development (in addition to the scientific project supervision).


Placements are a key feature of CTP and UKRI-BBSRC expects all doctoral candidates on a CTP programme to undertake a placement. Placements can be in the form of research placements (3-18 months duration) or used more flexibly for experiential learning of professional skills for business and/or entrepreneurship. All placements are developed in collaboration between the partners with input from the doctoral candidate.


Contact Professor Ruben Sakrabani( for an informal discussion on the research content of this PhD.

This studentship will begin in October 2024. The successful candidate should have (or expect to have) an Honours Degree (or equivalent) with a minimum of 2.1 in Geography, Agronomy, Soil Science, Plant Science, or other related science subjects. Students with an appropriate Masters degree are particularly encouraged to apply.

We welcome UK, EU, and international applicants. Candidates whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. Candidates should check the requirements for each host organization they are applying to, but IELTS 6.5 (with no component below 6.0) or equivalent is usually the minimum standard.

This studentship is for four years and is fully funded in line with UKRI-BBSRC standard rates. These were for 2023/24, an annual maintenance stipend of £18,622, fee support of £4,596, a research training support grant of £5,000 and conference and UK fieldwork expenses of £300.

To be classed as a home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or

  • Have settled status, or

  • Have pre-settled status (meeting residency  requirements), or

  • Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

If a candidate does not meet the criteria above, they would be classed as an international student and must demonstrate the ability to meet the supplement in fees required for an international student.

Anyone interested should complete the online application form before the deadline of 7th January 2024. Interviews will be held during January 2024.

Please contact for further application details.

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