EASTBIO: Easy peasy? Regenerating soil carbon with peas in the crop rotation

Aberdeen University

About the Project

This fully funded, 4-year PhD project is part of a competition and is funded by the BBSRC EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership and Birds Eye Ltd.

Peas are good for you and they are good for soil too. As legumes with large root systems, they fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and deposit nutrient rich organic matter into the soil. In large-scale agricultural production, peas as part of a crop rotation could have huge benefits to regenerating soils by boosting carbon, having knock-on impacts to sequestering greenhouse gases and improving the sustainability of the soil resource.

Birds Eye as one of the largest pea suppliers, works with 1000 farmers in the UK to ensure good quality food. In a drive to more sustainable production they want to know the power of the pea and how the pea crop impacts soil health.

In this PhD project you will analyse the impact of the pea crop on soil health by exploring how they affect the capacity of soil to support plant growth, resist environmental stresses like drought, and mitigate greenhouse gases by improved nutrient use and carbon storage. The study will be part of a larger effort to analyse the impact of pea crops on soil health indicators and add to the data collected in the field to specify the benefits and trade-offs – on a field scale as well as in the supply chain of Birds Eye peas.

The project samples across a network of farms, exploring soil respiration and nitrous oxide fluxes in the field, and soil properties in the laboratory. You will plan and manage a measurement campaign, interact with farmers and work closely with the Birds Eye production team. The study fields are located in England, in the wider area of Hull. The crop rotations are 5 to 8 years long with only ones including a legume (pea) crop in that cycle. Therefore, it will be important to cover field measurements on different stages in that cycle. The project will help to understand the functions of the legume crop on soil functions and soil health.

The project includes an internship with Birds Eye to gain insight of the production and operation stages. Through the PhD project, you will learn to plan and manage a measurement campaign, operate the equipment and complete the field and laboratory measurements, process and analyse the collected data, and learn to analyse your results in the larger context of soil health, carbon budget in the supply chain and agricultural management.



Applicants should hold a minimum of a 2:1 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) in a relevant subject. Those with a 2:2 UK Honours degree (or international equivalent) may be considered, provided they have (or are expected to achieve) a Distinction or Commendation at master’s level.

All students must meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in the UKRI guidance on funding for postgraduate training and development. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions.



  • Please visit this page for full application information: How to apply eastbio (eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk)
  • Please send your completed EASTBIO application form, along with academic transcripts to Alison Innes at
  • Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form. References should be sent to
  • Unfortunately, due to workload constraints, we cannot consider incomplete applications.
  • CV’s submitted directly through a FindAPhD enquiry WILL NOT be considered.
  • If you require any additional assistance in submitting your application or have any queries about the application process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

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