The Centre for Development Research recruits a student interested in studying soil structure.

Project description: Repeated ploughing and poor soil management can cause the development of hard pans, especially at a short distance below the surface (0-15 cm). Hard pans reduce productivity and contribute to the loss of soil fertility, as they affect water drainage and growth of plant roots. The project will explore existence/extent of hard pans on fields under conservation agriculture and under conventional management. The results will inform rural communities on suggested ways of hardpan treatment.

Objective of the study: To determine the extent of hardpans on selected sites in Uganda. The student will

  • explore the extensiveness and / or how intractable the hardpans are in the sampled fields,
  • explore soil texture, soil structure; soil pH, soil permeability, organic matter content, etc. 
  • sample sites in the selected districts using appropriate instruments such as a penetrometer
  • map hardpans using GIS techniques to determine the compactness of the soil
  • possible, depending on time and interest: do soil profiles to compare different tillage practices.

Location of field study: Uganda 

Duration: 3-4 months

Expenses: Travel cost and expenses for accommodation should be covered through KUWI outgoing actions. The student will be expected to apply for this travel support through the Center for International Relations.

Output of the study: The student will develop a Master thesis.

Research environment: The topic of the Master thesis is linked to the PhD thesis research of Sara Kaweesa on conservation agriculture that is already ongoing. The student will work under the supervision of Willibald Loiskandl, and be linked with Dominik Ruffeis and Andreas Melcher. Support can be availed to publish the results of the present soil structure study together with the ongoing studies if the student is interested.

How to apply: For further information, please contact: willibald.loiskandl(at)