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Advanced Plant Growth Centre

Growth room (c) James Hutton Institute

To meet ever-growing demand, agriculture has had to diversify and adapt at an astonishing rate. Increasingly, research and innovation will play a significant role in supporting the world’s most important industry. Countries that successfully translate science excellence through to industrial application will not only secure their food supply chains against the impact of climate change but also attract material inward investment opportunities.

A prime example of this research and innovation is the James Hutton Institute’s Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC) being developed in Invergowrie with industry and academic partners. On 22 November 2018, it was announced that the APGC project would receive critical investment funding under the Tay Cities Deal development programme. The project was green-lighted as part of an overall investment package of £62 million in two Institute-led innovation centre projects which will also see the International Barley Hub become a reality.

APGC will deliver increased commercial, economic and environmental benefits to the agricultural, food and drink sectors in the UK and internationally, by the innovative use of precision-controlled environmental technologies. With a return on investment of £11.70 for every £1 invested and £330 million in economic added value, it will bring significant economic impact and an estimated 800 full-time equivalent jobs to the entire UK food and drink supply chain.

What are the aims of APGC?

  • Work with commercial partners to develop vertical farming technology including plant/light interaction and sensor technology to understand factors that affect taste and flavour.
  • Develop plant varieties for vertical growth facilities including those suitable for automatic harvesting and bio-pharma use.
  • Develop speed breeding to cut the development time for new crops.
  • Develop adapted crop varieties that can tolerate climate change and evolving pest and disease risks.
  • Work with industry to drive knowledge exchange and create spin-in and spin-out opportunities.

APGC in figures

  • £28m initial investment.
  • 800 extra jobs created.
  • £11.70 return for every £1 invested.
  • £330m in economic value added to the food and drink industry.

APGC research facilities

  • Controlled environment research facilities:

    • Fully automated and controlled-environment vertical farm.
    • Growth rooms and chambers to recreate any type of growing conditions or climate.
    • Post-harvest research facility to reduce losses during processing, transport and storage.
    • Advanced phenotyping facilities.
  • Smart polytunnels.

For more information on the project, please contact Derek Stewart, Director of APGC.

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.