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Agroecology funding

Photograph of a field in the site network (Squire)The Agroecology group is funded from three main sources - the Scottish Government, the EU and a range of industrial and policy partnerships. The Scottish Government programme 2011-16 and 2016-2021 supports strategic research on ecosystem services, biodiversity and ecosystem function in the lowland arable-grass croplands of the north-east Atlantic. The group also contributes to work in the Scottish Government funded Centres of Expertise in Waters and Climate Change.

Newton Fund

Work has begun (March 2017) in the Group as part of two Virtual Joint Centres in Nitrogen Fixation, supported by the Newton Fund, which uses 'sciences and innovation partnerships to promore economic development and social welfare of partner countries'.

The contracts are worth around £400k to the Institute. Euan James will head up the work, which involves light and electron microscopy and measures of N fixation. Agroecology contacts: Euan James and Pete Iannetta.

EU grants and networks

The group is part of major EU networks linking more than 100 partners across Europe in major collaborative projects.

  • NASSTEC The Native Seed Science Technology and Conservation Initial Training Network is a Marie Curie network promoting the use of native seeds for grassland restoration. Starting 2014, ending March 2018, this 3.4 million euro project will apoint a range of doctoral and early stage positions in several countries at institutes, universities and companies and will hold summer schools and specialist workshops. Contact: Pete Iannetta and Geoff Squire.
  • AMIGA Risk assessment of biotech crops in European agroclimatic regions: EU FP7 AMIGA Project, 2012-16. A Europe-wide practical study testing current approaches to environmental risk assessment of new biotechnology. Agroeoclogy/James Hutton Institute contact / WP leader: Geoff Squire. IPM: Nick Birch.
  • PURE Integrated pest management in the EU FP7 PURE project 2011-2015, a major multi-partner project that aims to decrease the reliance of European crop production on pesticides. Target crops include wheat, maize, grape and vegetable. Agroecology contact/workpackage leader/ecological engineering: Graham Begg. James Hutton Institute contact: Nick Birch. Decision modelling: Geoff Squire
  • Legume Futures Legumes in European cropping systems: EU FP7, 2010-2014. A study of the potential for legume crops and covers to increase biologically fixed nitrogen, reduce the dependence on mineral fertiliser, the associated greenhouse-gas emissions and the reliance of farming on imports of animal feed protein . Agroecology/James Hutton Institute contact/ workpackage leader: Pete Iannetta. Nitrogen Fixation: Euan James. System design: Geoff Squire. see also the  legume Resource Centre.
  • SIGMEA Coexistence of GM cropping- EU FP6 SIGMEA project (project completed, analysis continuing). Contact: Geoff Squire

Industrial and policy collaborations

UK industrial collaborations take scientific findings to applications in farming, processing and landscape engineering. Recent and current projects include definition and selection of wheat ideotypes for reduced input cropping (Sustainable Arable Link, 2011-2014); biopesticides as replacement for EU pesticide withdrawals (SCEPTRE, now managed through the Chemical Ecology group), Technology Strategy Board projects (Physical fruit and Beans4Feed), new scoping grants from National Grid and Scottish Natural Heritage and two Newton grants to be added shortly.

  • Imaging approaches for high throughput phenotyping of plant stress responses (2014-2018) Phenotyping plants, particularly for root traits, is labour-intensive, requires destructive plant harvesting and cannot be applied readily to field grown plants. A project at the institute, funded by an Innovate UK consortium of JHI and industry partners, is developing imaging techniques for high throughput phenotyping to detect and quantify desirable crop traits in raspberry and blueberry. The aim of the project is to identify spectral signatures of plant biotic and abiotic stress as a means of selecting stress-resistant crop genotypes. The methodology could also be used to monitor plantations for pest and diseases or other management issues. Agroecology contact: Ali Karley
  • The beans4feeds Technology Strategy Board project 2012-2016 Development of protein-rich and starch-rich fractions from faba beans for salmon and terrestrial animal productivity. This £2.6M, 11-partner project examines the production of bean protein concentrate (BPC), compares this with other types of feed for the production and health of Atlantic salmon and investigates the nutritional value of bean starch in diets of pigs and poultry. Consortium: University of Stirling, EWOS, Biomar, Scottish Agricultural College, University of Aberdeen, University of St Andrews, W.N. Lindsay, Limagrain UK Ltd., Marine Harvest Scotland Ltd., Harbro Ltd and JHI. Agroecology contacts: Pete IannettaAli Karley. Institute contact: Pete Iannetta.
  • New Wheat Root Ideotypes LINK project 2011-2014. New wheat root ideotypes for yield performance in reduced input agriculture. Deploying wheat genotypes that exhibit efficient use of N and water is an option for improving resource use efficiency and maximising wheat yields.  This project aims to identify root traits in wheat to increase performance in reduced input systems. Consortium: NIAB, ADAS, KWS, BASF, Frontier, Monsanto, Nickerson, RAGT, Syngenta, University of York and JHI. Contacts: Tracy Valentine (Plant soil ecology group) and Alison Karley (Agroecology group)
  • The Physical Fruit Technology Strategy Board project 2010-2014 Breeding for physical resistance traits – protecting soft fruit crops from pests and pathogens: field scale assessment of soft fruit physical traits against pests and pathogens; experimental trait testing and chemical analysis of accessions against target pests and pathogens; QTL mapping of traits and genetic control of resistance. Consortium: ADAS, GSK, Thomson & Thomson Ltd., LEAF, Adamston Farms Ltd., ReDeva Ltd., KG Growers Ltd., M & S Ltd. Agroecology contact: Ali Karley, Scot Johnston. Project leader: Julie Graham.  
  • Landscape ecology modelling 2013-2014 funded by Scottish Natural Heritage. A landscape  approach to understanding the trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services. Landscapes are modelled to explore the possibilities for manipulating cropped and non-cropped habitats in the landscape in order to delivering a range of services including conservation objectives. Contact: Graham Begg.
  • Ecological impact of buried pipelines 2013-14 funded by National Grid. A case study of the potential effects of buried gas pipelines. Contribution from a range of Hutton and Dundee University expertise. The Agroecology Group will examine the consequences for crops and farmland biodiversity. Agroecology contact: Geoff Squire. Institute contact for wider project: Rupert Hough.
  • Response of cereal roots to commercial biostimulants 2013-2014 funded by Agrinos. For further information please contact Mylnefield Research Services MRS Ltd.
  • ClimateXChange 2014 - a short project to summarise trends and variability in crop yields. Agroecology/Institute contact:


Areas of Interest

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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.