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Soil Scientist/Modeller

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Town/City Lilongwe, Malawi.
Salary Range Dependent on Experience
Type Fixed Term and Permanent Roles
Status Full Time
Level Mid Level
Deadline 14/11/2008
Company Name International Centre for Tropical Agriculture
Contact Name
Website Further Details / Applications
International Centre for Tropical Agriculture logo
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CIAT is one of 15 not-for-profit Centers funded mainly by various countries, private foundations, international and regional organizations that make up the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CIAT conducts socially and environmentally progressive research aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, and preserving natural resources in developing countries. The Center offers internationally competitive salary packages, is an equal opportunity employer and believes that the diversity of its staff contributes to excellence. CIAT is interested in increasing this diversity of its staff and particularly encourages applications from both women and developing country professionals. The Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Institute (CIAT-TSBF) of CIAT operates as an integral part of the CIAT research programme and is housed at the ICRAF Campus, Nairobi, Kenya.

CIAT is seeking to fill the position of Soil Scientist/Modeller for the African Soils Information Service (ASIS) Project of CIAT-TSBF.

The ASIS Project will develop a practical, timely, cost-effective, soil health surveillance service to map soil conditions, set a baseline for monitoring changes and to provide options for improved soil management. The system will facilitate identifying areas at risk of soil degradation and corresponding preventive and rehabilitative soil management interventions based on analyses of what works, and what doesn't.

The project will build on recent advances in digital soil mapping, infrared spectroscopy, remote sensing, computational statistics and integrated soil fertility management to improve the way that soils are evaluated, mapped and monitored, while significantly reducing the costs to do so, and to disseminate innovative soil management methods such as the combination of inorganic fertilizers with organic inputs that improve crop yields while enhancing the environment. Dissemination and training will make the project's outcomes highly accessible to farm communities, public, and private extension services, national agricultural research and soil survey organizations, the fertilizer sector, project and local planners, national and regional policymakers, and scientists. The efforts in Africa are part of a wider, global effort to digitally map the world soil resources, and this project will help catalyze the global effort.

The position

The Soil Scientist/Modeller will report to the CIAT-TSBF Director through the Leader of ASIS Objective 4. The aim of Objective 4 is to provide evidence-based, spatially explicit soil management recommendations to national research and extension providers and services of the countries involved. This will be accomplished by the development of norms and standards for locally appropriate soil management practices; protocols for demonstrations and testing best-bet soil management practices at sentinel sites; collection and meta-analysis of literature and case-based soil management practices; installing and monitoring additional field trials at sentinel sites, modeling all of the above, including expert systems to assist the development of soil management recommendations by national institutes.

Description of the function

  • The Investigator will have the prime responsibility for the development of the decision support framework for providing evidence based soil management recommendations.
  • The Investigator will also apply decision framework to the selected sentinel sites to provide soil management recommendations and will use results from the ISFM trials and feed-back from user-groups to validate the recommendations. For executing these tasks the investigator will depend on the input from other staff in this Objective especially the ISFM specialist and the resource economist.
  • The Investigator will deputize for the Principle Investigator when in project and other meetings if needed.


Scientific responsibilities

  • Establish an analytic framework and develop diagnostic tools for identifying and evaluating soil and land use management constraints.
  • Develop criteria and formulate decision rules with respect to soil and land use management constraints (develop a rule base) and organize these rules in a hierarchical structure such that applying the decision support framework will result in soil management recommendations.
  • Develop and maintain a meta-database on research on fertilizer response trials, soil management technologies, and African farming systems in collaboration with NUANCES-DEED and Objective 2 staff to make it accessible through the internet.
  • Apply the decision support framework and tools to match land use and soil management options to local soil and land management constraints of the selected sentinel sites in Mali, Malawi, and Tanzania to generate soil and land use management recommendations.
  • Apply the decision support framework and tools to match land use and soil management options to local soil and land management constraints of the selected sentinel sites in Nigeria and Kenya to generate soil and land use management recommendations.
  • Adjust decision support framework and tools for matching broad level land and soil management recommendations to regional soil and land use management constraints and provide soil management recommendations for the relevant impact zones in SSA.
  • Map broad application and recommendation domains for targeted soil management and policy interventions (in collaboration with Objective 3).

Administrative responsibilities

  • Submit progress reports on work done to the Principle Investigator to be included in the progress reporting of Objective 4.
  • Conduct regular staff meetings with other staff of Objective 4 to assure proper input is obtained and to discuss design and planning of the field work in the sentinel sites.

Outreach and communication

  • Publication on case study demonstrating the use of the digital soil map and information system for Western Kenya.
  • Publication on the decision support framework for evidence based soil and land use management recommendations.
  • Soil health cases for the 12 investigated sentinel sites documented reported and discussed with larger stakeholder community and presented on the Web site.



Qualifications and experience

  • PhD in Soil Science, Agronomy, Production Ecology, or related field with at least 5 years of working experience in Africa.
  • Working experience in modeling of decision making processes or farming systems.
  • Proven analytical skills in agricultural production systems or agrarian rural diagnostics.
  • Experience with conducting field trials.
  • Strong writing skills.
  • Experience in working in inter-disciplinary teams.

Personal characteristics

  • Team player with personality traits that enable him/her to motivate and communicate with all levels of the professional and support staff.
  • Self-starting, energetic style, with an ability to work effectively with little day-to-day direction or supervision.
  • Reputation of integrity, high intelligence, creativity, and the ability to exercise good judgment.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and an ability to establish rapport and credibility with people at all organizational levels, forming strong relationships, both internally and externally.
  • Committed to transparency and continuous improvement in a cooperative atmosphere of constructive evaluation and learning.
  • Fluency in English and/or French.

Terms of employment

The contract will be for a 2-year period, renewable subject to 6 months probation period and assessment of performance. Starting date: as early as possible, after selection. CIAT offers an internationally competitive salary and benefits package commensurate with the position's responsibilities and the education and experience of the successful candidate.

Applicants should apply by e-mail, sending a cover letter summarizing their relevance to this position, a full C.V. and the names and contact information of three referees knowledgeable about the candidate's professional qualifications and work experience. Applications should be sent to the Human Resources Office at CIAT (a.l.restrepo@cgiar.org) with copies to m.sambo@cgiar.org. The reference name of the position should be clearly marked on the subject line of the e-mail message.

All applications will be acknowledged; only short listed candidates will be contacted.

Closing date for applications: 14 November 2008.

We invite you to learn more about CIAT and CIAT-TSBF by accessing our web Sites at www.ciat.cgiar.org and www.ciat.cgiar.org/tsbf_institute/index.htm, respectively.

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