Scottish Government funding worth £48 million will enable researchers to focus on some of the most pressing and complex issues facing Scottish and global agriculture, sector chiefs have said.
The money will help the scientific community find solutions to challenges including animal and crop diseases, explore agricultural productivity while protecting natural asses and respond to the challenges of climate change.
Vice principal of research at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Geoff Sim, said some of the money would be used on ‘big data’ to fine tune breeding programmes in collaboration with industry partners, and assessing the use of biosensors for monitoring animal health and welfare.
“In the arable sector, among other things, we will be studying integrated pest management which could help farmers decrease their inputs, reducing costs and environmental impact,” said Prof Sim.
“Many of the scientific publication and impacts case studies that underpinned our top UK ranking in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 were rooted in our RESAS research programme and we are confident that the new programme will lead to similarly important outcomes.”
Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the funding would ensure the country maintained its position ‘at the very cutting edge of advances in agriculture, food and the environment’.
Professor Louise Heathwaite, chief scientific adviser for rural affairs and the environment, added: “The Scottish Government continues to prioritise and fund strategic science that delivers the evidence base to support policy needs in the rural affairs, food and environment portfolio.
Much of this research is delivered through the Scottish research institutes, and has allowed Scotland to build an enviable and unrivalled national capability in land-based science in terms of research platforms, critical infrastructures and skilled people.
“This national capability benefits the whole Scotland, adding value through partnerships with other research funders such as the UK Research Councils and the EU; with other areas of scientific expertise in Universities; and with users of science such as the farming community.”