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SEAMS - Sustainability in Education and Agriculture using Mixtures

An exciting new project focussing on crop mixtures is starting during summer 2019. Funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and coordinated by the James Hutton Institute, the project aims to develop, promote and implement crop species mixtures as a sustainable crop production system for Scotland, and as a resource for knowledge exchange on food production, agricultural ecology and environmental sustainability.


What are we going to do?

We will develop a network of field sites across the main arable food production areas of Scotland. These sites will trial crop mixtures, providing information on how to tailor the use of crop mixtures to different locations in Scotland. They will also provide a platform for knowledge exchange and learning. The sites will be on working farms across Scotland and that the project will take a participatory approach, especially with respect to deciding the crop mixtures to be trialled.

Our first step is to establish a network of on-farm “core sites”, the main hub for our knowledge exchange activities. These core sites will grow crop mixtures and will host visits by a wide range of different groups, all of which have important roles to play in promoting the uptake and use of crop mixtures including:

  • Farmers - following the highly successful GWCT farmer clusters approach, we will use on-farm core sites as a hub for discussions with farmers from the local area, with the aim of establishing a wider set of on-farm “network sites” also growing crop mixtures.
  • Local schools – schools will be able to engage in citizen science activities and can use the crop mixtures as an opportunity to find out more about sustainable food production and the ecology of farmed landscapes.
  • Food buyers and producers – aiming to increase the uptake and demand for local products derived from crop mixtures.
  • Policy makers – promoting the place of crop mixtures within future agricultural policy.

To complement the field sites, we will be providing a range of guidance and education material on crop mixtures which will be made available from this website.


Workshop: Plant teams in Scotland: experiences, barriers and opportunities workshop

Interested farmers are warmly invited to a workshop focussed on investigating, learning and sharing ideas about crop mixtures, and farmer’s experiences of establishing, growing and harvesting them. Growing two crops simultaneously offers a range of potential benefits from soil conditioning to pest control, but mixtures must be well-designed and closely managed. At this workshop, we will discuss, what works, what doesn’t, what the opportunities are and what barriers to be aware of. On a farm tour, we will hear from Farm Manager Matt Waldie about his experiences, as well as about an exciting new project SEAMS which is aiming to promote the growing of crop mixtures in Scotland.

Date: Thursday 14th November 2019
Time: 09.45 – 15.30 (including optional farm tour)
Location: West Gilston Mains, By Leven, Fife, KY8 5PH
Booking: To book please click here


Project partners:

The project involves and is supported by a number of partner organisations:

Related sites

The following websites provide more information on crop mixtures and sustainable farming projects:

  • DIVERSify: Designing InnoVative plant teams for Ecosystem Resilience and agricultural Sustainability
  • TRUE: TRansition paths to sUstainable legume based systems in Europe


For more information on the project please contact

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


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.