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Homepage / My dream to study phosphorus

My dream to study phosphorus



My passion for farming from young age drove me to agricultural college. After my first and second degree I have been involved with smallholder farmers making sure they get the best out of their fields, money and energy invested should be worth it.  More recently I was involved in a project with Michigan State University which focussed on understanding crops adaptations in different environments and how can it be improved, that is when I saw the advert for “PhD in soil chemistry at Cranfield University” on one of our local online job search websites in Malawi. Reading it, I was interested mainly because they talked about phosphorus and the university was Cranfield. I love phosphorus it has been my dream to study this element in detail and my MSc was on this topic “external P requirement of soils in Malawi relative to effects of conservation agriculture”. I have been taught by a Cranfield University graduate before and he said nothing but good things about the university; I had to try my luck. From application to interviews, then I became a Cranfield University PhD student.  Although the PhD project research title “Evaluating phosphorus dynamics from renewable sources to meet crop demand and minimise environmental pollution” does not say much, this PhD cuts across agriculture, environment (soil and water) and sanitation.

I am looking at the use of compost from municipal waste compost, market waste compost, sewage sludge compost, among others waste materials, on its effectiveness to supply and meet crop demand for phosphorus and also checking that water bodies and soils are being protected from overload of phosphorus and heavy metals from these waste materials. As the concerns of depletion of phosphate rock are growing each passing day I would like to produce the flow diagram of phosphorus flow in Malawi from importation to waste water. Doing this will identify and quantify potential sources for recycling. Currently, I am really into literature review for my research, designing and doing all sorts of preparation for field and lab trials. With guidance from a team of specialists in soils, sanitation and system analysis led by Dr Sakrabani, I will be the principal investigator. I will carry out each step of this research up to the end and field work will start in January 2019. I have talked a lot but none of what I have said (concerning my PhD) would have been possible if it was not for The Sue White Fund. The Sue White Fund is paying for my study here at Cranfield, upkeep, transport and part of the research funds. Thanks to The Sue White Fund for helping me to fulfil my dream while I am contributing to the development of my country and the world at large. So far so good, no challenges to report but the journey has just started, but still we should expect that we may incur some in the near future.

Frank Mnthambala

Written By: Cranfield University

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