Plant-Pest Interactions

A major constraint on achieving food security is crop loss due to pests and diseases. The main aim of this work is to develop a better understanding of the plant-pest interactions that threaten arable crop production in Scotland and elsewhere.

Crop Genetic Improvement

The main activities will focus on barley, wheat, potato and soft fruit, the crops of major importance to the Scottish economy. For each crop, the spectrum of capabilities is linked into translational crop genomics pipelines that ultimately deliver improved cultivars.

Genetic Diversity of Crops

The major aim is to develop suitably characterised germplasm resources leading to the generation of crops better equipped and adapted to future climatic conditions, taking into account key areas of stakeholder concern that impact on profitability and the sustainability of Scottish crop production.

Novel Vaccines

The aim of this RD is to develop safe, highly effective, optimised, novel vaccines for the control of the most production- and welfare-limiting endemic diseases of Scottish livestock. The key drivers for this research are:

Animal disease epidemiology

To advance our knowledge of how to improve disease control strategies through epidemiological and socio-economic approaches.  This includes research into the spread of important, targeted, endemic pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) via livestock and the environment including transmission of such pathogens to humans. 

In order to achieve this, we will more specifically:

Livestock genetic improvement tools

The aim of this RD is to improve livestock production, efficiency and welfare, whilst decreasing the use of resources and impact on the environment. This will be achieved using current and next generation tools, focussing on genomics and targeted gene approaches for production (growth, efficiency), maternal and health characteristics (including economically important endemic diseases).

GHG reductions from livestock

Animal-based strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant livestock: The aim of this work is to address major knowledge gaps in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock by investigating the effects of different grassland management systems, the rumen microbiome (the microbes that normally inhabit the gut), endemic diseases and host genetics on methane produc

Disease mechanisms

Disease mechanisms: The aim of this work is to provide increased understanding of how pathogens (viruses, bacteria and parasites) interact with their host to cause disease.  This new knowledge will underpin the development of next-generation control strategies for a range of infectious diseases of importance to livestock production both nationally and internationally.

Evaluation of livestock health

Disease has a detrimental effect on animal health and welfare and causes substantial losses in production. In order to assess the effectiveness of control measures and determine their economic impact, a quantification of the level of disease and/ or health status is needed.

Improved husbandry & reduction of painful procedures

Our aim is to provide an evidence base for advice to farmers on the best approaches to improve the welfare of their animals. Guided by Scottish Government (RESAS) priorities, our work covers two specific areas, covering 4 species of commercial importance:

Welfare assessment techniques

To improve assessment of animal welfare in order to be able to characterise where animals are experiencing a net positive Quality of Life: Welfare of farmed livestock is an important ethical concern. Policy interest in the concept of 'positive welfare’ underlies our work.

Novel diagnostic tools

To develop novel tools and approaches to improve diagnosis of the most economically important endemic diseases of livestock in Scotland, the UK and Europe.

Improving existing green house gas reduction measures

The aim of this research is to address some key farm-level and policy-level issues to help develop policies in Scotland and more widely in the UK and in Europe, as part of a wider national and international research programme. The research includes a combination of environmental economic modelling, survey work and development of monitoring and evaluation tools and approaches.

Increasing uptake of best practice

The aim of research deliverable is to explore the uptake of practices which improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of land, crop and livestock management throughout Scotland. The research builds on previous work within the RESAS Strategic Programme and on collaborations with UK and international partners.

Trade-offs between productivity and sustainability

The key aims and drivers of this research are:

Using and sharing data across supply chains

This RD will involve the development of tools and strategies to promote the increased use of data from across agricultural supply chains and industry networks, for management and feedback, in order to improve efficiency across the agri-food industry. We will focus on developing methodologies to help quantify and communicate the uncertainties resulting from pooling data across the supply chain.

Integrated management systems

The aim of this research is to develop integrated management systems to enhance economic and environmental sustainability in agriculture, focusing on two production systems: arable and ruminant livestock.

Alternative approaches to sustainable land management

Our overall aim is to investigate the potential productivity and environmental impacts of the introduction of alternative land management practices including measures introduced as part of CAP Greening.

Getting further value from the GHG research platform project

The aim of this work is to develop novel approaches to improve the understating of environmental and management controls of nitrous oxide emissions from the soils, and to improve the estimation of methane emissions from grazing cattle and sheep.

Sustainable soil and water management

The Sustainable Soil and Water Management Deliverable has three broad aims. First, we will generate new knowledge to help enhance the sustainable use and management of soils and water in agricultural systems whilst reducing environmental impact.