Our blogs serve as a dynamic platform for our experts, researchers, and thought leaders to share their insights, experiences, and discoveries with you. Dive into a diverse range of topics, from sustainable agriculture and climate change to biodiversity conservation and cutting-edge innovations. Through our blog, we aim to bridge the gap between science and the wider community, offering a glimpse into the challenges and successes of our scientists.

From the outside, life in a Scottish island might seem like a common experience. Viewing it as such across our diverse islands can be detrimental.
Food security might not seem like a big issue in Scotland. Comparatively, to other places around the world, it’s not. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems within our food system.
This is the second instalment of a series of blog posts highlighting Hutton scientists and their collaborators using environmental DNA (eDNA for short) techniques.
Did April feel cold to you? It did to many people, but apparently it wasn’t all that cold. Our weather data from Invergowrie showed that April was the joint 17th warmest month on our records, which date back to 1954, held jointly with 1959.
Cover crops are one way to increase diversity on farm and potentially have multiple benefits both above and below ground. These benefits include adding carbon and nitrogen to the soil, improving soil structure, capturing nutrients and passing them to the next crop, and reducing weed burden, depending on the specific cover crop species or mixture grown.
Scotland’s rural land and its managers have been at the forefront of the transition to using renewable energy systems. Over the 20 years up to 2023, they’ve played a significant role in increasing the generation of renewable electricity in Scotland from 3.3GW installed capacity 14.2GW.
The US has joined a growing number of countries waking up to the risks posed by the presence of PFAS, more commonly known as forever chemicals, in our environment, drinking water and food.
How can we repopulate and keep communities strong on Scotland’s islands, how can we make sure there is adequate access to housing in rural areas and could remote working be the boost needed to create rural resilience?
Our graduate research assistant programme makes the transition much easier. We’ve been running it in our social, economic and geographic sciences (SEGS) department since 2020. The latest tranche just completed their six-month placements on the programme – and some have been lucky enough to have their contacts extended while others are looking forward to the next steps in their career.
The winter months, December to February 2024, were the second warmest winter on our records at Invergowrie, with a daily mean air temperature of 5.3°C. This beats only 1998, which saw a daily air mean of 5.8°C, according to our records, which date back to 1954. It was also a relatively wet winter, with 251 mm of rainfall recorded, making it the tenth wettest winter on our records.
The James Hutton Institute is a partner on a newly funded pilot project, led by Fife Coast & Countryside Trust (FCCT), aiming to blend public, philanthropic and private financing to restore a catchment area in Fife.
Here at the Hutton, environmental DNA (eDNA for short) is in a board range of projects, and we’re launching a series of blogs profiling some of the Hutton researchers and their collaborators who are using this transformative technology.
Major flood events cause significant and long-lasting disruption to lives. Our research suggests we’re going to experience the impacts of such extreme events more often, as we share increasingly busy spaces with the natural world. But there are some measures we can take to soften those impacts. It starts with understanding what causes flooding.
We all have an older family member who we’ve tried – and failed – to persuade to use aids, from walking sticks to hearing aids, that we think would make their lives easier. When they live further away from us, or more remotely, offering support can be even harder and it’s becoming an increasing issue.
Aberdeen is blessed with many fine trees, but a recent hunch has led to one being measured – and discovered to be the city’s tallest. Hidden away in Craigiebuckler, in the picturesque grounds of independent research organisation The James Hutton Institute, the Sitka spruce has long thought to have been a prize specimen.
Population decline in Scotland’s sparsely populated and rural areas, as highlighted in the Herald’s special investigation last week, is a perennial challenge. It’s a topic that we and colleagues have been studying at The James Hutton institute, both in Scotland and further afield, for several years.
Scotland is well known for its weather. We’re used to rain and snow as well as dry spells. But these weather patterns are changing. What could this mean for how we live? We undertook research, on behalf of the Scottish Government, looking at how the climate has changed since 1960 and how it’s expected to change in coming decades out to 2080.
Trees are a great way to soak up carbon emissions, improve nature and biodiversity. Right? Well, not always. We take a dive into why where you plant trees can have hidden, perhaps surprising, implications.
Green finance has become a new buzz phrase; an economic lever to help drive environmental solutions that address the climate and ecological crises. Here in Scotland, it’s an idea already being put into practise, with initiatives like the Facility for Investment Ready in Nature in Scotland (FIRNS) programme.
Around this time of year, on a very rainy winter’s day a couple of years ago, I was visiting a dairy farm in east Scotland. Grazing was important to the farmers’ system for keeping his costs down, but he told me that, in recent years, more rain coming in unpredictable patterns was making it harder to rely on grazing as the driver of milk production on his farm.
Stories are central in how humans make sense of the world, and in how we relate to each other and to nature. How we tell stories – through images and words – matters for biodiversity and ecological restoration, including whether, where and how it takes place, and who is involved and impacted.