PhD Opportunity: Agricultural Soil Structural Stability, University of Guelph

Two funded PhD positions: Structural stability of agricultural soils in Ontario

Project: Surface and subsurface compaction, due to traffic, and surface crusting, due to rain-induced disaggregation, continue to be major problems facing agriculture in Ontario and elsewhere. With the trend towards larger farms, more massive equipment and increasing unpredictability of climate, the risk of soil compaction increases. In response, many producers are considering track-based implements or rapid tire deflation/re-inflation systems on their equipment. The impact of these systems, relative to soil texture, organic matter, and moisture status is still not well understood. High-resolution x-ray computed tomography (CT) scanning will be used in this research, in conjunction with infield pressure sensors and soil penetrometers to better understand structural changes under compaction in Ontario soils.

Positions: Our research group seeks two PhD students for this project. This highly applicable project is funded through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance and the Grain Farmers of Ontario. The student will join an active group exploring many aspects of soil structure, organic matter characterization and x-ray computed tomography. The project has funding for three years and is located at the University of Guelph campus. Starting date is January 2020.

Qualifications: For this interdisciplinary research, we seek students holding a Master of Science degree (MSc) or equivalent with an understanding of soil science, agriculture, or a focus on the characterization and physical behavior of geological materials. Applicants should be willing to combine field work, laboratory and computer analysis and be able to work independently as well as co-operatively with other graduate students, field, and research staff. Previous experience with x-ray analytical methods (ideally, computed tomography), digital image analysis, soil organic matter characterization, ecological modelling, and coding are assets.

Apply: Please provide a letter of interest, CV, and contact information for 2 references to Dr. Richard Heck ( or Dr. Adam Gillespie ( in the School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph, Ontario Canada. We will begin evaluating applications on Nov 1, 2019, and the position will remain open until filled.


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