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Our Science

Our work covers much of the terrestrial environment and involves soils, water and crop production.


Physical, chemical and biological processes within soils underpin a vast range of ecosystem services. Our work deals with the fundamental composition of soils (geological, chemical and physical) and seeks to better understand soils as a natural resource, enabling its protection as well as its utilisation for crop production. We hold the National Soils Inventory for Scotland and study the distribution and function of soils at a landscape scale.


The management of water resources is fundamental to our work and takes into consideration mountain catchments, rivers and the coastline. Our work is aimed at utilising expertise in areas such as chemistry, biogeochemistry and hydrology to balance the demands placed on this vital resource. We work across Scotland and have a network of field stations and research platforms.

Crop production

Our work on crops and their products is aimed at understanding the drivers of quality, nutritional value and health benefits. This work encompasses abiotic factors such as soil quality and water availability but also links closely to the genetic properties of different crop varieties, and use metabolomic and transcriptomic approaches.

Research areas


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.