24th June 2016

Innovation Offers Huge Potential for Scottish Agriculture

There is huge potential for the Scottish agriculture industry to benefit from innovation is the coming decades, according to Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute.

During an address to attendees at Quality Meat Scotland’s Royal Highland Show industry breakfast today (Friday June 24th) Professor Campbell said the value of science to agriculture had never been greater.

There would, he said, be very significant changes to the way farms are managed in the not-too-distant future as a result of uptake of new technology.

“There has never been a time when innovation in agriculture has been more exciting, nor the potential to optimise use of our natural assets,” said Professor Campbell.

This innovation brings the prospect of many great changes to the way farming is undertaken with for example, an increasing role for agribots (agricultural robots) to undertake more and more of the work currently carried out by tractors.

Professor Campbell also outlined some of the bigger picture changes likely to take place over the next three decades as a result of an increasing global population to feed and the likely impact on the land farmed in Scotland.

“We are expecting the global population to have increased to 9 billion by 2050 and it is calculated that they will require at least 50% more food and 120 million hectares of land in developing countries to provide the extra food needed.

“A further impact in Scotland we are likely to see by 2050, due to climate change is an increase in prime agricultural land including in some upland areas. For example we could see more arable production in several parts of the country such as Speyside,” observed Professor Campbell.

And he said Scotland had a great deal to be proud of in terms of its environmental credentials on the global stage in terms of its water and soil quality and the land management undertaken.

The James Hutton Institute is this year celebrating the 290th anniversary of the birth of the man after whom the institute is named.

The genius of James Hutton, who was a farmer as well as a brilliant scientist, is well documented and the work undertaken by the institute is at the top of the global agenda. It involves tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems including the impact of climate change and threats to food and water security.

Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said QMS was working hard to improve the public’s understanding of the positive environmental role of livestock farming in Scotland.

“The fact is that over 80% of Scotland’s agricultural land is grassland and rough grazing – not suitable for growing vegetables and cereals but ideal for top quality Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb production,” said Mr McLaren.

The positive role of livestock farming in Scotland’s landscape and biodiversity is one of the key areas highlighted in a new education area on QMS’s stand at the Royal Highland Show this year.

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