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Funded studentship: The Politics of Local Agricultural Policy in the era of sustainable intensification

We are currently advertising an ESRC South West Doctoral Training Centre (SWDTC) Studentship entitled The Politics of Local Agricultural Policy in the era of sustainable intensification. Ref: 1666

Project description:

A leading policy challenge is how to reconcile rising and changing patterns of demand for food with the goals of environmental sustainability.  The Royal Society suggests that the global community is faced with a stark choice of either expanding the area of agricultural land to increase gross production, or increasing yields on existing land.  Given the importance of land not in agricultural production for the delivery of other ecosystem services, the need to increase yields is compelling and the idea of Sustainable Intensification (SI) - a means of increasing food production without increasing (or ideally reducing) the environmental footprint of agriculture - has emerged as a powerful response to the challenges facing the agricultural industry and the science community. Indeed, the science community has responded with initial analyses, for example, of the extent to which farmers may already have adopted business and technical innovations that amount to SI.  Others have sought to demonstrate how SI might be achieved through a better understanding of agro-ecology, coining the term ‘ecological intensification’ to capture such possibilities. Defra has funded a £4.5 m programme of research on SI to explore these approaches, with one of the three funded projects led by the supervisors of this PhD. The Defra research is taking place in seven case study areas, two of which are in the south west of England (Taw and Hampshire Avon). The PhD will examine the impact of the new emphasis on SI on local policy. Questions that could be addressed by a PhD might include the following:  What is the relationship between the SI agenda and existing local policy initiatives, for example concerning catchment management and nature conservation, in the 2 SW study areas? What are the views of local stakeholders and policy actors on SI? To what extent is SI impacting on local land and ecosystem management and policy? How do national policy actors envision SI in local policy contexts?                

Collaborative partner: Rothamsted Research UK is a BBSRC Research Institute based in Hertfordshire and Devon

For details including how to apply please visit the website at:

Closing date for applications: 12 February 2015

16 December 2014

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