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Research on impact of COVID-19 on food practices

The James Hutton Institute and Robert Gordon University (RGU) are carrying out research on how COVID-19 restrictions impacted behaviours around food related practices. The study will look at the nature and extent of these changes across different social groups in the North East and especially those experiencing or anxious about food poverty.

Blue light inhibits immune response of potato to late blight disease

Daylight is made from a spectrum of wavelengths and plants possess receptors that can detect red and blue light. Blue light is important for plant growth and yet inhibits the immune response of potato plants to Phytophthora infestans, making them more susceptible to potato late blight, a research team featuring plant scientists from the James Hutton Institute has discovered.

Rethink our relationship with nature to avoid worst of climate change and pandemics

Society needs to re-think its relationship with the natural world if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and pandemics, the James Hutton Institute has urged in the 2022 episode of BBC Scotland’s Resolutions programme.

In the broadcast, filmed at the Institute’s Glensaugh Research Farm and at IGS Limited in Invergowrie, Hutton Chief Executive Prof Colin Campbell and Deputy Chief Executive Prof Deb Roberts look back at the past two years and the lessons we have learned.

Plans afoot for UK’s first purpose-built greenhouse gas observatory in Scotland

Following on the back of COP26, planning proposals are being put forward to build the UK’s first purpose-built tall tower for directly measuring greenhouse gases from land at the James Hutton Institute’s Balruddery Farm, in Angus near Dundee.

The state-of-the-art facility is designed as a £1m, 100-metre-tall tower. It will enable the UK to monitor and so mitigate climate change by allowing scientists to measure the composition of greenhouse gases directly and then to model changes mathematically over the coming years and decades.

Five new climate and disease resilient potato varieties approved for release in Malawi

Five climate and disease resilient potato varieties developed by the James Hutton Institute-led Quikgro research project have been approved for release in Malawi by the Agriculture Technology Release Committee of the Malawian Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development. It’s hoped that the new varieties will contribute to economic growth and prosperity along the whole potato supply chain in the region.

Assessing durability of potato breeding lines against PCN threat

Researchers at the James Hutton Institute and James Hutton Limited are exploring ways to reduce the losses caused by potato cyst nematodes (PCN) in commercial potato production. PCN is an increasing challenge to the UK fresh and processing potato markets, and the target of concerted efforts to protect Scotland’s seed potato and bulb sectors, worth £112m and £7m, respectively, to the rural economy.

Why Covid is not a good stress test of our food supply chains' resilience

By Mike Rivington

Will there be turkeys for Christmas? In spite of some likely strains due to Brexit, labour shortages and the familiar yet ever-evolving disruptions of COVID-19, the answer is a fairly safe yes. Yet this is perhaps surprising. 

Global patterns of potential future plant diversity hidden in soil seed banks

Soil seed banks are a hidden stock for plant diversity and are critical for the recovery of disturbed ecosystems. A new study co-authored by Prof Robin Pakeman, a senior scientist within the James Hutton Institute’s Ecological Sciences department, has brought together research on the density and diversity of seed banks in an effort to try and understand their global patterns.

World Soil Day: Celebrating all that soils can do for us

By Ken Loades, Roy Neilson, Tracy Valentine and Nikki Baggaley

COP26 highlighted more than ever that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and become more sustainable before it’s too late. Soil is a key component in this battle and something that we expect to provide food, feed and fibre, store and supply water, store carbon, archive geological and archaeological heritage to name but a few. World Soils Day on 5th December celebrates all that soils do for us.

Plants for the Future: sustainable and innovative agricultural systems

A report by a multi-stakeholder working group of the European Technology Platform ‘Plants for the Future’, featuring contributions from James Hutton Institute scientists, has identified three principles that will help transition towards more environmentally and socio-economically sustainable agricultural systems.

The European Technology Platform ‘Plants for the Future’ (Plant ETP) was established to support the transition to more sustainable and innovative agricultural systems that remain within planetary boundaries.


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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.