Post Doctoral Scientist - Soil and Manure Nutrient Cycling and GHG Emissions

  • Nairobi, Kenya
  • Sustainable Livestock Systems Program (SLS)

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to recruit a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the environmental research team in the Sustainable Livestock Program to measure nutrient cycling and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in smallholder mixed-crop and pastoral livestock systems.

ILRI works to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in developing countries through research for efficient, safe and sustainable use of livestock. It is the only one of 15 CGIAR research centres dedicated entirely to animal agriculture research for the developing world. Co-hosted by Kenya and Ethiopia, it has regional or country offices and projects in East, South and Southeast Asia as well as Central, East, Southern and West Africa. The postdoc will work at the “Mazingira” Centre, ILRI’s state-of-the-art environmental research laboratory, unique in Africa ( ILRI’s Mazingira Centre is the only lab fully equipped to measure GHG emissions from multiple sources (soils, manure, animals, landscapes) in East Africa using a range of different methods and detectors. Through science and capacity building, its aim is to create evidence needed by governments, farmers, and the science community to take action that sustainably improves Africa’s agricultural production.

The position:

Millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa rely on livestock for their livelihoods; yet livestock is also connected to environmental externalities such as GHG emissions and water pollution. To achieve sustainable livestock development, we have to understand the impact of livestock on the environment (GHGs, soil health, water impacts) and vice versa at various scales. The knowledge gained through this position will help to prioritise good-bet options for low-emissions development and sustainable intensification of livestock production, and to build capacity in decision support, planning and investment in sub-Saharan African countries.

The focus of this position will be on direct measurements and indirect estimations of GHG and ammonia emissions and nutrient cycling in different manure management systems and across soils of various land-use types (e.g., grassland, cropland, forest). The aim is to determine the magnitude of emission sources from livestock-agroecosystems, and to better understand the underlying processes and their controls. Furthermore, the position will test management interventions to reduce GHG emissions and other pathways of nutrient loss (e.g., nitrate leaching, ammonia volatilization) from livestock manure to improve on-farm nutrient circularity. Finally, the postdoc will develop nutrient budgets of livestock agroecosystems to understand the balance of carbon and nutrient flows entering (e.g. feed purchase, fertilizer inputs, BNF) and leaving (e.g. gaseous & leaching losses, sales of livestock & manure) the farm, as well as on-farm nutrient transformation (e.g. soil nitrogen cycling processes, decomposition).

Key Responsibilities

  • Conduct soil nutrient and GHG measurements for different land use systems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to detect emission hotspots and develop mitigation options;
  • Develop management interventions through laboratory and field experiements to reduce GHG emissions and nutrient losses (C, N, P) from livestock manure and improve its fertilizer quality;
  • Conduct measurements of nutrient cycling processes in soils and manure to understand the underlying drivers and controls;
  • Conduct household surveys to better understand current manure management and crop fertilizing practices as well as barriers and incentives for improvement;
  • Operate and manage laboratory and field facilities, specifically manual and automatic soil GHG flux chambers, laser absorption spectrometers included in various setups (e.g., manure incubation chambers, soil flux chambers) to quantify GHG emissions from soil and manure;
  • Perform quality control and statistical analysis of the collected data;
  • Write scientific papers and prepare conference presentations; contribute to other communication products (research briefs, policy briefs, stakeholder meetings etc.);
  • Co-supervise PhD and MSc students and guide research technicians;
  • Develop innovative concepts and ideas for further research (including proposal writing) to address environmental aspects of agricultural productions systems that do not compromise food security.
  • Perform any other related duties as may be assigned


  • PhD in biogeochemistry, agronomy, geo-ecology, environmental sciences, soil science, or related fields
  • Good understanding of carbon and nitrogen cycling processes and their controls in natural and/or agroecosystems
  • Considerable practical knowledge of techniques and experience with equipment used in the measurement of GHG emissions from terrestrial ecosystems
  • Ability to effectively manage, visualize and analyze (statistics) large datasets using standard programming languages (i.e., R, python, Matlab, etc.)
  • Excellent spoken and written English
  • Proven track record of scientific writing as first and/or corresponding author
  • Knowledge of agricultural production systems in developing and/or developed countries is an asset
  • Knowledge of chemical analysis of environmental samples (soil, manure, water) is an asset
  • Experience with NH3 measurements is an asset
  • Experience in doing household surveys using the ODK platform is an asset

Post location: The position will be based in Nairobi, Kenya

Terms of Appointment

This is position is at job level HG 16 and it is open to both national and international applicants. The position is a two (2) year contract, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and availability of funding. ILRI offers a competitive salary and benefits package which includes medical and other insurances.

Applications: Applicants should send a cover letter and CV expressing their interest in the position, what they can bring to the role and the names and addresses (including telephone and email) of three referees who are knowledgeable about the candidate’s professional qualifications and work experience to the Director, People and Organizational Development through our recruitment portal by clicking on the "Apply Now". Revisions of application will start August 1 and position will be closed when filled. The position title and reference number: SLS/1478/2024 should be clearly marked on the subject line of the online application.

We thank all applicants for their interest in working for ILRI. Due to the high volume of applications, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

ILRI does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process (application, interview meeting, processing or training). ILRI also does not concern itself with information on applicants’ bank accounts

In case of any questions about the position, please contact Sonja Leitner at To find out more about ILRI, visit our website at

ILRI is an equal opportunity employer

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