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Crop & Soils Systems


Half ploughed fieldThe vision of the Crop and Soil Systems Research Group is to be recognised nationally and internationally for the quality of our science and knowledge exchange with stakeholders, to benefit crop production and health, the environment, and the rural economy. 

To find out more please download our group leaflet.

What we do

Our research is intended to underpin the development of resilient and sustainable systems of crop production that are economically viable, but also environmentally and socially acceptable. We achieve this through a combination of systems research at the farm level and specific research into:

  • Approaches to crop protection which minimise agrochemical use and maximise the efficiency of the plant's inherent defences
  • Phenotype and genotype analysis for improved resource use efficiency, spatial modelling of rooting systems
  • Improving soil quality, nutrient cycling and use
  • Limiting harmful impacts such as  GHG emissions
  • Soil management
  • Modelling agricultural systems
  • Crop rotations
  • Improving the sustainability of cropping systems design

We make extensive use of a range of modelling techniques to understand farming systems and to extrapolate wider messages from the experimental data. The methods used range from statistical analysis of data, meta-analysis, and dynamic deterministic models of cropping and soil systems. In addition the team evaluate new methodological applications for their potential to contribute to ongoing modelling projects. For further details on modelling interests see profiles below.

The Applied Practice team aims to provide a clear route to practice for the research undertaken within the Group, to be a two-way conduit for messages from our research to a wider range of stakeholders and to receive intelligence to help drive future research within the Group.

Why we do it

The world population is projected to increase to a maximum of 9 billion by 2045-2050. At the same time climate change is expected to exert a significant negative impact on crop production. Meeting global and local demands for food and crop products is going to present a considerable challenge. Not only must we raise yields and protect crop health, but this must be done without damaging our fragile soil environment, because crop yield and health are underpinned by the maintenance of soil functions and other ecosystem services. This challenge will only be met by integrating our carefully targeted agricultural research across interdisciplinary teams.

Further Information

To find out more check out Downloads below.

Dr Fiona Burnett

Fiona Burnett

Group Manager - Crop & Soils Systems

Address: Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Peter Wilson Building, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG.

Telephone: 0131 535 4133

Fax: 0131 535 4144