SRUC is a leader in interdisciplinary research to understand and promote change in farming and food systems. It aims to understand and engage with farmers and their influencers and so precipitate beneficial change in farming systems and practices both nationally and internationally.

Much of the research work is linked to key demonstration activities on our research farms. We bring together a range of biological and engineering skills and work together with leading industry expertise and academic collaborators.

By working in a systems context much of our work seeks to understand economic, environmental and social sustainable land management systems in the context of international, national and local land use policies, with an emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This theme aims to support decision making to transform agri-food systems and food security.

Example projects:

  • Animal imaging and sensing systems (precision livestock (or SMART) farming)
  • Biomarkers for animal performance, efficiency and health – for management or breeding
  • Measurement systems and proxies for greenhouse gas (particularly methane) emissions
  • Role of the rumen microbiome (microbial species and genes) in animal performance
  • Carcass and meat quality measurements and analysis
  • Developing precision livestock farming approaches
  • Evaluation of the economic and public goods associated with upland land use systems
  • Maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity

Widespread research

Innovation in agri-food systems is central to achieving food and environmental security. We conduct research into complex food-supply systems – including appropriate new technologies – to deliver sustainable and healthy diets, to drive the transformation towards resilient, fair and sustainable food systems, and to support growth in the wider bio-economy.

Our research includes:

  • novel farming systems
  • understanding the role of livestock-derived foods in sustainable, healthy diets
  • soil, crop and livestock management for sustainable intensification
  • precision agriculture
  • agri-business models that support fair value distribution along supply chains

Joining the 'fourth industrial revolution'

Advances in communication, sensor and earth observation technologies combined with advances in data science are driving a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ across all sectors, including agriculture. As such, data-driven innovation will underpin all our work.

In particular, we make use of decision support tools, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to drive our work in precision farming; promoting food-supply-chain integrity and authenticity; and modelling, testing and evaluating the impact of agri-food system interventions.

Food, people, planet

Human health and wellbeing are inextricably linked with animal, crop, soil and environmental health. We assess which agri-food system innovations are most likely to improve human health and wellbeing and wider planetary health.

This includes assessment of the wider societal, economic and environmental impacts of agri-food system interventions, and the related policy and governance issues.

Our research includes novel approaches to predict and control crop and livestock diseases and to reduce antimicrobial resistance; as well as to develop efficient, environmentally sensitive and sustainable agri-food systems that reduce waste, are resilient to climate and environmental change, and reduce environmental impact.

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Our work addresses health and productivity in animals, animal welfare and crops, promotes low carbon farming and increases farm output through efficiency and innovation.

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