Skip to navigation Skip to content

Research and applications

Photograph of Capsella seed showing mucilage structures (Tracy Valentine, Pete Iannetta) Our research crosses scales from the individual to the landscape. Individuals are examined through the functional traits and properties that link them to each other and to their surrounds. Groups of individuals form populations that exchange genes and interact for sunlight, water and nutrients. Populations of different organisms - plants, insects, microbes - mediate the movement and transformation of energy and matter in fields and woodland. Fields, woods and other habitat form landscape mosaics through which individuals move and interact. Feedbacks occur between all scales: the landscape evolves because of the working of individuals, including people, while individuals are limited by the constraints of the landscape. Applications include:

  • Agroecology added value - research and promotion of new products with environmental benefits: Barney's Beer produce new batch of legume based ale; bean bread and bean beer as examples of commercial products based on grain legumes, crops that fix their own atmospheric nitrogen and so reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture; new uses of legumes in fish and stock feed from the Beans4Feeds project.
  • Sustainable cropping systems - production within safe environmental limits: field survey to establish the state of soil, crops, food webs, fields and landscapes in the croplands; assessing the current limits and limitations to yield, source- or sink; inputs and the scope for deintensification, quantifying the associated trade offs; the major field platform at the Centre for Sustainable Cropping near Dundee. 
  • Environmental risk assessment - whole system approaches to hazard, exposure and risk: defining the chain from interventions through life forms, ecological processes and ecosystem services; understanding the long term effects of new crop types; field trials in Europe on maize and potato; modelling the effects on innovation on  pesticide usage and other inputs; geneflow, seed movement and coexistence between crops, volunteers, ferals and wild plants.
  • Carbon and nitrogen cycling in croplands - N fixation, inputs and losses, N-efficient plants, trends through and after intensification; stores and dynamics of soil carbon; studying and stimulating the links between crop genotype and rhizobial strain; variation of C:N ratio with cultivation intensity, plant type and trophic level.  
  • Functional biodiversity - crops, wild plants, arthropods, microorganisms - their role in ecological processes and ecosystem services: field survey of plants and their associated invertebrates; parasitoids and parasitism as a form of pest biocontrol; pollinators, their food and their function in pollination.
  • Crop-weed coexistence - trends in weed populations in relation to crop yield; positive and negative contributions of weeds to ecological processes; the buried seedbank and weed population dynamics; conserving the rare weed flora; for a fuller account see Integrated pest management (IPM) – weeds
  • Mathematical modelling - systems, crops, communities, trophic interactions: individual based modelling; process modelling of stores and fluxes; crop-pest models; multi-attribiute decision aids models using DEXi software.


Areas of Interest

Printed from /research/departments/ecological-sciences/our-science/agroecology/research-and-applications on 01/12/23 07:32:22 AM

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.