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Agriculture

Agriculture

Image showing two agricultural combines harvesting an arable crop

Scotland’s agriculture sector underpins Scotland’s high performing food and drink industry, is at the heart of our rural communities, and provides benefits to wider society. SEFARI provides the research needed for Scotland to improve the efficiency of good food production whilst protecting the environment, rural communities and animal welfare. This is done through developing tools (for example on disease control, welfare and genetics), research, and the capability to think about agriculture in a wider context. We also work with farmers and growers, processors, food companies, health professionals, nutritionists, and economists to find ways to put our research into practice.

Case Studies

5 Jul 2021

Does lime application to pastures offer win-win benefits for food production and biodiversity?

In the UK the addition of lime to agricultural land was strongly encouraged by Government subsidy payments to farmers, but since subsidies ceased in the late 1970’s the application of lime has declined with subsequent acidification of many soils.

9 Jun 2021

Major weight loss in pregnant cows harms the development of their calves

Body condition scoring is a rapid way to assess fat coverage of livestock. In cattle it is scored on a 1 (lean) to 5 (obese) scale. Scottish beef cows typically gain body condition when grazing and lose some of this condition during the winter before calving in the spring. 

27 Apr 2021

Should we graze the uplands of Scotland?

The continued grazing of the uplands is contentious as the goals of rewilding and farming/crofting often appear in conflict. Any changes to land use will result in cascading impacts through ecosystems, and decisions about land-use need to be informed by data to show that benefits will exceed the disbenefits.

26 Mar 2021

What is the cost of soil erosion in Scotland?

Sustainable soil management is a key component of several Scottish Government policies, including the Land Use Strategy, the Climat

18 Jan 2021

Liver fluke risk and Agri-environment Schemes: a Tale of Toads, Snails and Wetland Birds

In this case study, we describe field investigations of liver fluke risk to livestock associated with grazing under two different agri-environmental schemes and discuss best practice for conservation grazing and sustainable fluke control.

14 Jan 2021

New crop protection targets to control late blight

Control of plant diseases such as potato late blight relies heavily on the use of crop protection products such as fungicides.

16 Dec 2020

Integrated Pest Management: How widely have these management practices been adopted?

Arable crops like wheat and barley, are frequently under attack from diseases, weeds, insects and slugs. These lead to reductions in yield and affect the profitability of farms and the price of produce. To protect crops there is a heavy reliance on pesticides.

1 Dec 2020

Using Natural Capital Approaches to support sustainable land management in Scotland: Insights from five pilot studies

Natural capital approaches involve identifying, understanding, and measuring the relative contribution of nature to economic performance and human well-being. By adopting the language of business, natural capital approaches allow the natural environment to be included in discussions about business decisions.

16 Nov 2020

Assessing natural capital impacts and dependencies within upland farming systems

Natural capital underpins sustainability and refers to the stocks of natural resources, which include geology, soil, air, water, and all living things.

30 Oct 2020

Antimicrobial resistance: bringing Scottish expertise together to find the solutions

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global, immediate and ongoing concern to human health.

21 Oct 2020

The search for crop pathogens Achilles heels

Plant pathogens trigger changes in host plants that allow them to cause disease.  Understanding which molecules pathogens use to do this (termed effectors), how they allow infection to take place, and how they are detected by plants has important implications for our understanding of plant disease.  

6 Oct 2020

The impact of sustainable cropping on soil-borne diseases – a focus on Rhizoctonia solani AG3

The Centre for Sustainable Cropping (CSC) is a long-term experimental platform established to integrate all aspects of sustainability research on arable ecosystems. The CSC allows us to study crop management at a more integrated and system wide level and compare this to conventional crop husbandry practices.

22 Sep 2020

Recommendations for landscape-level adaptive management for ecological, economic, and social outcomes

Improving the management of Scotland’s natural assets at a landscape-level for ecological, economic, and social outcomes is a priority for the Scottish Government and its partners.

11 Sep 2020

Approaches to reducing potato waste by improving home storage and minimising greening

Potato is the number one wasted household food by weight, estimated at over 700,000 tonnes and with a cost of £555M per annum in the UK. Nearly half of the fresh potatoes bought by UK householders are thrown away.

25 Aug 2020

Making Worms Squirm: Sustainable Worm Control in Lambs through Precision Livestock Farming

Electronic identification (EID) tags have been compulsory in UK sheep flocks since 2010, and a decade after their introduction, can still be a controversial topic.

10 Jun 2020

Nematodirus battus: Is it likely to spiral out of control?

Farming practices are evolving in response to intensification, diversification and climate change. As farm management has changed, pathogens of livestock have also adapted to optimise their reproduction and transmission opportunities.

3 Jun 2020

Not all roots are equal – so what?

Soil is, and always will be, a very valuable resource. Soil is critical for food production and regulating several services to the wider environment, such as flood regulation and storing carbon.

1 Apr 2020

Diversity in the Mix: The benefits of biodiversity for sustainable crop production

We are currently facing three major global challenges: climate change, biodiversity loss and the development of sustainable food production systems. Ideal solutions to these challenges would be ones that deliver win-wins, addressing at least two of these simultaneously.

10 Dec 2019

Protecting Potatoes - Scotland's Story

Since the emergence of late blight (Phytophthora infestans) in the 1840s this disease has presented a major challenge to the potato industry, with annual losses estimated to be £55 million in the UK.

1 May 2019

Scotland’s harmful acidic soils - Can liming improve cropping sustainability?

The Soil Survey of Scotland shows that large areas of Scotland have acidic soils. Soils with a pH less than 5.6 inhibit root growth, which can reduce crop yields.

Pages

Blog

15 May 2021 - 10:15

How grassland farmers are tackling the climate and biodiversity crisis head on

The farming community are under pressure to not only produce more food and remain profitable but also for their practices to be more sustainable. Despite these pressures, the farming community is experimenting, adapting and sharing their findings.

12 May 2021 - 12:22

Eat them to beat them: Can Invasive Plants be Harnessed to Provide a Sustainable Source of Protein?

Agriculture bears the brunt of having to reliably supply food, ensure its own economic viability, while complying with environmental concerns. Farming comes under a lot of pressure to deliver produce, despite unfavourable climatic variation, changes in pest behaviour and the control of invasive plants.

12 Apr 2021 - 15:03

Why we need to consider the role of plants in the spread of zoonotic pathogens

Zoonotic pathogens are microorganisms transmitted by animals, which cause disease and illness in humans. Many of them are foodborne and are commonly associated with farmed animals, or less frequently with wildlife.

Events

2021

12 Aug

Potatoes in Practice 2021

Potatoes in Practice is the largest filed-based potato event in the UK.