Farming innovation investment to support Scottish agriculture

farming innovation investment
© iStock/Empato

Projects offering innovation and development in Scottish farming and food production will benefit from investments worth more than £340,000 (€399,061).

The funding will be distributed by the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) for 2014 to 2020. Investment delivered through the fund is aimed at supporting innovation within Scotland’s agricultural sector, as well as promoting decarbonisation throughout the farming industry.

Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “As we face a global climate emergency, investing and supporting innovative research within our agricultural sector has never been more important. Farming is sometimes singled out as a climate offender, often by those who do not fully understand or appreciate its importance to our rural communities, or the work our farmers do to protect our environment. With this latest funding the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund has now invested around £5.7m in projects that will help us continue to grow a sustainable, vibrant and innovative rural economy.”

Projects set to receive funding through the programme include:

  • A scheme developed by pig producer co-operative Wholesome Pigs, investigating key factors which affect incidences of pleurisy in pigs;
  • A ‘Digital Farms’ initiative from the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society, implementing low power wireless digital connectivity to better enable farmers to collect data; and
  • ‘Keeping Cow with Calf’, an exploratory project conducted by Scotland’s Rural College, trialling ethical dairy practices such as keeping cows and their calves together for five months after birth, rather than the traditional 24 hours.

Colleen McCulloch of Soil Association Scotland, which helped set up the Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) group behind ‘Keeping Cow with Calf’, said: “David and Wilma Finlay, who are running the project at their farm in Castle Douglas, are at the forefront in Europe of turning this high welfare dairy system into a successful, commercial operation. Keeping calves with their mother has benefits beyond welfare, for example for rose veal and beef supply, as well as grassland management and biodiversity, but is commercially challenging. The KTIF funding will allow Dr Marie Haskell of Scotland’s Rural College to run a year’s pilot project to track the progress of the Finlays’ operation and trial it on several other farms, with the aim of establishing a blueprint that could be adopted by any interested farm.”

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