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Dr Kairsty Topp

Agricultural Systems Modeller
Soil Science and Systems
Crop and Soil Systems

Research interests 

I am an agricultural systems modeller, focusing on using statistical and dynamic and deterministic modelling techniques. 

Recent work focuses on:

  • analysing N2O data to assist in improving the methodology for the national agricultural inventory
  • assessing the global warming potential of different management systems
  • mitigation and adaptation strategies for farming systems
  • modelling tools to compare the sustainability of different farming systems
  • statistical analysis of landrace and grain quality

Areas of expertise also include understanding the impact of changes in farm management in cropping / grassland systems on the environment, and in how an understanding of these issues can inform economic and social models of the farming system.

I work closely with colleagues other European countries to develop these tools that will be crucial in the assessment of the environmental impact and economic resilience of farming systems.

Selected research projects

  • Climate Cafe - Climate Change Adaptability of cropping and Farming systems for Europe (FACCE-ERA-NET+)I
  • NCircle – Virtual Joint Centre for Closed-Loop Cycling of Nitrogen in Chinese Agriculture (BBSRC Newton Fund)
  • Improvements to the National Inventory (Defra)
  • Alternative approaches to sustainable land management (Scottish Government)
  • Genetic diversity of crops and crop genetic improvement (Scottish Government)


I co-ordinate the MSc module on Sustainable Food Production, which is a core module for the MSc Food Security course.  This course explores the conflicts and trade-off among the objectives that are required of food systems.  Using health and welfare as central concepts, the course will examine what is required for a healthy environment (including specific resources such as soil), human health and welfare, healthy crops and livestock and the extent to which attempting to maximise any one of these may (or not) lead to conflicts with others.

PhD students

  • Stacia Stetkiewicz
    Stacia’s work is focused on identifying integrated pest management methods which are both practical and effective for the Scottish spring barley sector.
  • Vasileios Myrgiotis
    Vasileios’ work is focused on estimating N2O emissions and soil carbon in the crop-dominated regions of Eastern Scotland.
  • Frances Ryan
    Frances’ work is focused on NVZ regulation on nutrient management in Ythan catchment.  The assessment is based on national and regional data.
  • Alasdair Sykes
    Alasdair is developing an environmental calculator which will be sued to assess the beef supply chain.
  • Fortune Gomo
    Fortune Faith Gomo is a Hydro Nation PhD scholar with the University of Dundee, the James Hutton Institute and SRUC. Her PhD is on developing and demonstrating how a systems based integrative approach, can be used as the basis to integrate across key commercial and policy sectors of the water-food-energy nexus under a changing climate and population growth in catchments in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Martha Dellar
    The title of Martha’s project is Modelling climate change impacts on sheep and goat systems.  This is part of the iSAGE project, working to make the European Sheep and Goat sectors more sustainable, competitive and resilient.

Selected publications

  • Brennan, M., Topp, C.F.E., Hoad, S.P. (2016)  Variation in grain skinning among spring barley varieties induced by a controlled environment misting screen.  J Ag Science (in press). doi:10.1017/S0021859616000423.
  • Myrgiotis, V., Williams, M., Rees, R.M., Smith, K.E., Thorman, R.E., Topp, C.F.E. (2016) Model evaluation in relation to soil N2O emissions: An algorithmic method which accounts for variability in measurements and possible time lag.  Environmental Modelling & Software 84:251-262.
  • Kipling R.P., Bannink A.,  Bellocchi G., Dalgaard T., Fox N.J., Hutchings N.J., Kjeldsen C.,  Lacetera N., Sinabell F., Topp C.F.E.,  van Oijen M., Virkajärvi P., Scollan N.D. (2016)   Modeling European ruminant production systems: Facing the challenges of climate change.  Agricultural Systems 147:24-37.
  • Elston, D.A., Rivington, M., Topp, C.F.E., Muhammed, S., Potts, J.M., Butler, A., Kettle, H., Baggaley, N.J., Rees, R.M., Matthews, R.B. (2015) Stratification of climate projections for efficient estimation of uncertainty and variation using weather-driven models.  Climate Research, 66:1-12.
  • Hughes, G. and Topp, C.F.E. (2015) Probabilistic Forecasts: Scoring Rules and Their Decomposition and Diagrammatic Representation via Bregman Divergences.  Entropy, 17, 5450-5471.

See all of Dr Kairsty Topp's publications.

Dr Kairsty Topp

Team Leader - Modelling Team

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

Telephone: 0131 535 4026

Fax: 0131 535 4345