PhD scholarship within Environmental Sciences – Soil and Agronomy

Deadline: 15.11.2021

Norwegian University of Life Sciences

NMBU has a particular responsibility for research and education that secures the basis for the life of future generations. Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we deliver knowledge for life. NMBU has 1,800 employees of which about 250 phd scholarships and 6,000 students. The university is divided into seven faculties.

NMBU believes that a good working environment is characterised by diversity.

We encourage qualified candidates to apply regardless of gender, functional ability, cultural background or whether you have been outside the labour market for a period. If necessary, workplace adaptations will be made for persons with disabilities. More information about NMBU is available at www.nmbu.no.

About The Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management

The Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) works with nature and the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, biological and geological processes.

MINA’s employees undertake teaching, research and dissemination within the fields of geology, hydrology and limnology, soil science, environmental chemistry, forestry, ecology, natural resource management, renewable energy, and nature-based tourism.

Our vision is to be a key actor in knowledge production and dissemination, and our goal is to deliver research of high, international quality, and varied and excellent teaching. The faculty’s employees are significant participants within their respective fields of expertise, both nationally and internationally. The faculty is dominated by a vital research culture and high levels of scientific production.

The faculty has about 200 employees, 90 PhD students and 650 students.

Read more about MINA here

We seek a curious student interested in combating climate change and enhancing food security in Sub-Saharan Africa

About the position

Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management (MINA) at Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3-year PhD–position in soil science.

The PhD candidate will be connected to the project “Climate-smart innovations in agriculture in Uganda: Improved food security, livelihoods and soil carbon” (NRC project 243789). The project focuses on climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture, job creation and capacity building. It builds on ongoing research (since 2010) testing effects of conservation agriculture (CA) and biochar on soil fertility and crop production. Partners of the project include NMBU (coordinator), Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and Menon Economics in Norway and Makerere University, Gulu University and Rural Enterprise Development Services (REDS) in Uganda.

In the project we develop innovative and sustainable climate-smart methods to enhance food security, counteract soil degradation and improve livelihoods through increased yields and new business developments.

We combine CA with the application of biochar, produced from agricultural waste. In combination, CA and biochar contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation and is a potentially important technology in the Climate-Smart Agriculture toolbox.

The successful candidate will mainly be involved in field trials focusing on (1) effects of conventional, CA and CA+Biochar on crop yield and soil quality in two agro-ecological zones of Uganda and (2) greenhouse gas emissions (N2O, CH4) and plant-available water as affected by different management practices. Mechanistic pot trials will be done at Makerere University to test novel biochar formulations. All field work will be conducted in Uganda, while laboratory analysis will be done at NMBU, Makerere and/or Gulu.

The applicant is made aware that an application for a PhD position at NMBU is at the same time an application for admission to a PhD programme at the institution. The documentation that is necessary to ensure that the admission requirements are met must be uploaded as an attachment.

Main tasks

  • Determine the effects of different management practices on soil properties and crop yields.
  • Conduct field work in Uganda at established experimental sites.
  • Characterize (chemically, physically, and biologically) soil samples in the laboratory.
  • Collaborate closely with other students and researchers in the fields of soil science, plant nutrition, agronomy and social sciences.
  • The specific tasks will be adjusted to the candidate’s interest and background.

The successful candidate is expected to submit a research - and progress plan for the PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, and a doctorate is expected to be completed within the 3-year PhD scholarship period.


In order to be appointed, the candidate must meet the requirements for admission to one of the PhD programs at NMBU. A master's degree of at least 120 credits (ECTS) is required, which is based on a bachelor's degree of at least 180 credits (ECTS), or cand.med.vet. degree, or integrated master's degree of at least 300 credits (ECTS). The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies, and be able to document good English skills, both written and oral. For more detailed information on admission criteria, see the PhD Regulations and the “supplementary provisions for the PhD programmes”.

The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required Academic qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a relevant scientific field, such as soil science, environmental science, ecology, or agronomy. Preferably obtained within the last 5 years.
  • Knowledge of statistics and agronomy.
  • Knowledge of biogeochemical processes.

The following experiences and skills will be advantageous:

  • Experience with field experiments and soil-chemical and -physical analysis in the laboratory.
  • Experience with CA and/or biochar.
  • Familiarity with tropical agriculture.
  • Scientific publications within climate smart agricultural technologies or related subjects.
  • Experience from rural Sub-Saharan Africa.

You need to:

  • be solution oriented and possess the ability for independent work displaying initiative and careful thought
  • have an analytical and academic approach to research questions
  • have good collaborative/social skills
  • have a keen interest in spending prolonged field work periods in Uganda.
  • have strong skills in written English and experience with academic writing.

Remuneration and further information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD Fellow, pay scale 20 (salary step. 54-62). PhD Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 491.200, -) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact:

  • Dr. Vegard Martinsen, researcher at MINA, NMBU. E-mail: [email protected]; phone +47 67 23 18 48. or
  • Professor Jan Mulder, MINA, NMBU. E-mail: [email protected]; phone +47 67 23 18 52

Information for PhD applicants and general Information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

In the application, the candidate must confirm that information and documentation (in the form of attachments) submitted via the job application can also be used by NMBU in a possible admission process.

Application deadline: 15.11.2021

The following documents must be attached to the application:

  • Motivation letter
  • Complete CV
  • Certified copies of academic diplomas and certificates. Applicants from universities outside Norway are kindly requested to send a diploma supplement, or a similar document, which describes in detail the study program and grading system
  • Diplomas/certificates (i.e. Diploma, transcript. Diploma supplement for both bachelor and master). (Diplomas, transcripts and diploma supplements that are not in Norwegian or English must be uploaded in the original language. An English translation of these documents must also be attached.)
  • Documentation of proficiency in written and oral English
  • Names and contact details for two references
  • Confirmation that information and documentation submitted via the job application can also be used by NMBU in a possible admission process
  • Applicants invited for an interview are expected to present original diplomas and certificates.

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