I am Head of SRUC's Hill and Mountain and Beef Research Centres. My research focuses on livestock systems, with a particular focus on the uplands. I currently lead programmes of work which look at the interactions between livestock farming systems, economic viability and environmental issues. I took a lead role in the publication of the Rural Policy Centre's Farming's Retreat from the Hills Report in 2008. I have overall management responsibility for SRUC's upland farms of Kirkton/Auchtertyre at Crianlarich and the Bush Farms in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh.
I have long been involved in practical research that has sought to improve returns to sheep producers via genetic improvement, through improved nutrition and healthcare. Recently I have considered how different elements of extensive livestock production might benefit from integration with woodlands and how labour, systems and animal welfare interact. On the environmental front, a strong background in the understanding of grazing impacts on biodiversity related issues has always been a key area of expertise and a central area of interest, both practically and through bio-economic modelling.
I also now lead work on measuring greenhouse gas emissions in beef and sheep systems, linking together grazing studies, through more intensive measurement protocols in controlled environments, to estimating the impact within full livestock systems and whole farms. Underpinning much of the research is a long-term background in participative research usually with land managers and farmers, based around the premise that the influence of people is of greater significance than the traditional view of animal science being about animals, health and nutrition.
I am an Associate of SRUC Rural Policy Centre.
I have supervised two students who have achieved PhDs and am currently supervising two who are studying for a PhD. I teach SRUC courses on subjects covering upland livestock production and animal welfare. I am External Examiner at Greenmount College, on courses within the University of Ulster.
Address: Easter Howgate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0PE