MYFROG project - 4 Ph.D. positions available

The MYFROG project: Maintaining high Yields in Québec Field crops while Reconsidering the Option of using Glyphosate

Field crops (grain corn and soybean) in Québec cover over 800 000 hectares and represent one of the largest source of agricultural revenues but are also responsible for most of the use of glyphosate-containing herbicides (GCH). Maintaining high field crops yields while drastically reducing the usage of these herbicides is of strategic importance for keeping the agricultural sector prosperous in a sustainable environment. 

In close collaboration with the Québec Ministry of Agriculture, fisheries and food (MAPAQ), this interdisciplinary project aims at establishing a comprehensive portrait of the impacts of massive usage of GCH in different field crops systems in Québec on key agricultural soil functions such as nutrient retention and recycling, compaction prevention, water retention and carbon sequestration, as well as water quality represented by the percolation of glyphosate and its main degradation product (aminomethylphosphonic acid) in agricultural streams. A promising direct seeding mulch-based cropping system, promoted by our supporting company SCV Agrologie and requiring little GCH applications will be tested in two climatic zones of Québec in fields of participating farmers and in experimental plots at the Grain Research Center (CEROM).

4 Ph.D. research projects available (scholarship: $CAD 21,000/year):

Project 1:

The Ph.D. student will study the evolution of soil functions after the application of GCH at various rates in the experimental fields implemented by our supporting company. He/she will give a particular focus in his/her research to the formation of macro-aggregates deriving from specific microbial activity. The student will relate the effective soil compaction prevention in particular through earthworms activity and nutrient retention to the various cropping systems studied throughout the four years of the project.
Interested, please contact Marc Lucotte or Gilles Tremblay

Project 2:

The Ph.D. student will conduct cutting edge analysis to characterize soil microbial and microfauna communities associated to the various experimental cropping systems. Shifts in bacterial and fungi communities with a particular emphasis on mycorrhizea dynamics will be studied. This student will conduct in vitro analyses in experimental plant growth chambers (IRDA) and greenhouses (UQAM) to identify the role played by specific microbial consortiums on the degradation of glyphosate in soils and plants. He or she will distinguish AMPA produced after glyphosate degradation from that deriving from sludge application.
Interested, please contact Richard Hogue or David Widory or Marc Lucotte

Project 3:

The Ph.D. will evaluate the status of ecosystem services associated to various cropping systems studied. This student will be in charge of assessing the carbon sequestration potential in soils of each system. He/she will characterize the degree of humification of soil carbon and relate it to the findings of the first and second students (macro-aggregates and microbial activity). In parallel, he or she will also evaluate the potential leaching of glyphosate and AMPA present in waters percolating in soils to nearby streams.
Interested, please contact Charles Séguin or Marc Lucotte

Project 4:

The Ph.D. will integrate biophysical and socio-economic data in a dynamic model allowing the assessment of profitability and sustainability of the various systems studied. He/she will also consider possible subsidies or fiscal abatement for keeping or improving ecosystem services along with some practices. This student will build a multi-criteria soft system model in order to propose scenarios, rank and sort them to define Québec farmers preferences for adopting alternative cropping systems. He or she will participate to the organization of meetings between researchers, farmers, governmental and non-governmental representatives.
Interested, please contact Charles Séguin or Jean-François Guay or Marc Lucotte