New research to trial crop mixtures for improved sustainability

An innovative research project aims to demonstrate the benefits of using crop species mixtures as a sustainable crop production system.

The Sustainability in Education and Agriculture using Mixtures (SEAMS) initiative will facilitate knowledge exchange on food production, agricultural ecology and environmental sustainability in Scotland.

Previous research projects have demonstrated that crop mixtures can improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems.

The project will include a network of farm-based sites across the main arable food production areas of Scotland.

These sites will trial crop mixtures, providing information on how to tailor their use to different locations in the country.

Education and directing policy

SEAMS will also provide a range of guidance and educational material on crop mixtures to complement the field sites.

The project also plans to connect with policymakers to promote the use of crop mixtures within future agricultural policy.

Prof. Rob Brooker, an ecologist based in the James Hutton 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.

SEAMS has been funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and will be coordinated by the James Hutton Institute.

The project is supported by partner organisations including Buglife Scotland, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, LEAF, NFU Scotland, The Royal Highland Education Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Soil Association Scotland, and Scottish Agronomy.