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World Soil Day: heads up - the answer lies under our feet

By Pete Iannetta, Alison Karley, Cathy Hawes and David Michie

Nature of Scotland Award for innovative work to protect biodiversity

A scientific team featuring researchers of the James Hutton Institute and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS) has scooped the Innovation Award at the prestigious RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards 2020. Led by Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, NatureScot and the University of Edinburgh, the team worked with 43 scientists from 18 organisations to establish a ‘world-first’ standardised risk assessment to identify genetic problems in wild species and to monitor and guide management responses to conserve genetic diversity.

A journey from source to sea: travelling along the River Dee

Scotland boasts a hugely varied coastline and a rich offering of inland waters in both rural and urban settings which host an amazing array of riches, come in all shapes and sizes, and are greatly valued and cherished by communities and visitors alike. To mark the Year of Coasts and Waters, scientists of Scotland’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW), the James Hutton Institute and the Dee Catchment Partnership embarked on a catchment triathlon of the River Dee, travelling its 88-mile length and capturing their amazing adventure on a short film.

Barley pan-genome: scientists unravel diversity of domesticated barley

An international research team including scientists from the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee has reached a milestone on the way to unravelling the species-wide genetic diversity of domesticated barley. With the complete genome sequencing of 20 diverse genotypes, the researchers completed the first step in decoding the genetic information of the entire species - the barley pan-genome. Scientists and breeders will greatly benefit from these new findings, which have today been published in the renowned magazine Nature.

Professor Ian Toth recognised with British Potato Industry Award 2020

Professor Ian Toth has been recognised with the British Potato Industry Award 2020 for his invaluable contribution to the potato industry over the past 25 years. The prestigious lifetime achievement award was presented by AHDB Potatoes Chair, Alison Levett, as part of the Potato Industry Conference 2020 which was delivered via a virtual event held on 24th November.

Breathing new life into the Beltie burn

We hear about ‘climate change’ and ‘biodiversity loss’ all the time these days. We hear considerably less about how to tackle them, so it’s time to shout about a project that does just that. The restoration of the Beltie burn in Aberdeenshire has been completed, and it is hoped that the project will change the course of the region’s natural and social history for the better.

Spotlight on natural capital approaches to support sustainable land management in Scotland

How can we use the Natural Capital Protocol (NCP) to help land managers when considering agricultural land use decisions? How can the NCP contribute to ongoing initiatives to test natural capital approaches in land-based business in Scotland?

These questions, and many others, will be at the centre of discussions during an upcoming online event titled “Using Natural Capital Approaches to support sustainable land management in Scotland: insights from recent pilots”, hosted by the University of Edinburgh and the James Hutton Institute.

New Hutton PhD studentship opportunities for 2021

New opportunities for PhD projects at the James Hutton Institute are now being advertised on FindAPhD.com. PhD projects are being offered by all five of our science departments covering many aspects of our work. All projects are funded jointly between the Institute and participating universities.

Winter flooding can help build resilience of groundwater aquifers for crop production

A new hydrological study co-authored by James Hutton Institute PhD student Camilla Negri and colleagues based in Italy has shown that winter flooding, the application of water onto agricultural lands to recharge groundwater aquifers during wintertime, can promote the resilience of aquifers used for rice production.

Environmentally friendly PPE in Scots researchers’ sights

The global use of personal protection equipment (PPE) has skyrocketed due to COVID-19, propelling the industry to revenues of more than £8bn in the UK alone, and although a coronavirus vaccine now seems closer, PPE is likely to remain a part of our everyday lives. However, most PPE materials are single use, contain plastics, are not easily recyclable and end up in our landfills, or worse yet, discarded into the environment.


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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.