Three research assistantships are available in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. Students are being sought for the following roles:
PhD - Soil Fertility Spatial Variability – Rotational Winter Bale Grazing. Bale grazing is a winter hay feeding system that is used by beef producers that places round bales of hay on pastures before winter hay feeding begins and then providing cows with access to the hay at a controlled rate with strip grazing. The objectives are to measure the impacts of the hay feeding system on spatial variability of soil fertility, soil health, simulated nutrient runoff with artificial rainfall, and evaluate the economics of bale grazing versus traditional systems. The PhD student will work under the advisement of Dr. Rory Maguire. The successful candidate will be responsible for plot establishment, maintenance, sampling and data analysis. There is also flexibility in the project for the candidate to follow other lines of investigation in the area of nutrient management, travel to professional meetings and to gain Extension experience Starts summer or fall of 2021.
PhD - Comparing performance and external impacts of adaptive and static crop management systems. Field- and plot-scale experiments will be used to compare a standard cropping system (likely corn and small grain for silage) with an adaptive system consisting of cover crops, extended rotation, plant diversity and other factors known to improve soil health. Monitoring will include plant, soil, water and air impacts. The objective is to improve nutrient recommendations, thus improving economic and environmental outcomes. The research will be field-based, but require significant laboratory analyses as well. Available summer or fall 2021, under the advisement of Dr. Wade Thomason. The student will reside on campus in Blacksburg and be affiliated with the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
MS - Cover crop nutrient cycling: Field and sub-field crop management tools. Field- and plot-scale experiments will be used to calibrate, validate and increase N use efficiency and new rate recommendations for cash crops based on nutrient cycling from cover crops. Decision support tools that assess N mineralization by cover crop residues and soil organic matter will be developed to improve crop N recommendations. The objective is to improve nutrient recommendations, thus improving economic and environmental outcomes. Available summer or fall 2021, under the advisement of Dr. Wade Thomason. The student will reside on campus in Blacksburg and be affiliated with the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
Qualifications: BS and possibly MS in Soil Science, Agronomy, or closely related discipline. Demonstrated excellence in course work. Excellent written and oral communication skills. Ability to work independently and as a team member. Annual stipend is approx. $23,400, tuition is covered and low-cost health insurance is available. For more information about this position, please contact: Dr Rory Maguire, E-mail: RMAGUIRE@vt.edu or Phone: (540) 231-0472, or Dr. Wade Thomason E-mail: email@example.com or Phone: (540) 231-2988.
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