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New project investigates sustainable crop mixtures


A new research project aims to demonstrate the benefits of using crop species mixtures in sustainable crop production systems.

The Sustainability in Education and Agriculture using Mixtures (SEAMS) initiative has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and is being coordinated by the James Hutton Institute. It is developing a network of farm-based sites across the main arable areas in Scotland to trial crop mixtures and provide information on how to tailor their use to different locations.

Professor Rob Brooker, an ecologist based in the Institute’s Ecological Sciences group and coordinator of the SEAMS project, said, “This is a vital time for developing sustainable land management approaches that work for Scotland. It is very exciting that we can use our trials as a platform for school visits and educational activities looking at farming and the role of biodiversity in our farmed landscapes.”

The project also involves Buglife Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, LEAF, NFU Scotland, The Royal Highland Education Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Soil Association Scotland, and Scottish Agronomy.

Core sites will provide a platform for knowledge exchange and learning and will host visits from a range of different groups, all of which have important roles to play with regards to promoting the use of crop mixtures. Local schools will also be encouraged to engage in citizen science activities at the sites, using it as an opportunity to find out more about sustainable food production and the ecology of farmed landscapes.


Photo source: James Hutton Institute