this site

A place was needed to expand on some of the research and technical development arising from the organisations in which I have worked in recent decades. This site will not present alternative views to what can already be expressed, but will allow me to enlarge on, and to a degree digress from, content of the formal web outlets of my present organisation [1].

The emphasis here will be on current research, outputs, projects and the successes of colleagues at the James Hutton Institute near Dundee, but it will also draw much on past experience, in the UK, with European partners and in Africa and Asia [2]. From around 1998, my aim has been to build up – with a background as a Biologist – theoretical and practical capacity in land-use systems, primarily those that produce food and other natural products, but need to sustain their own capacity for survival and to share their space with other living things.

Group and funding

The group in which I work at the Hutton Institute is presently named Agroecology. It has maintained its aims over several changes of departments and administrations. It consists mainly of quantitative and experimental biologists with an interest in ecological processes and production ecosystems.  Its self confessed primary aims are to record, observe and understand, rather than promote one particular form of land use over another. We work with interests in farming, conservation, industry and policy but do not represent one over another.

Funding has been from several sources. Sustaining the effort over more than two decades, the Scottish Government and the various departments that preceded it, have offered welcome continuity and allowed the formation of a strong base that includes major experimental field platforms and site networks.

Other funders include UK departments of the environment, now Defra and previously DoE, the European Union which has made career-saving contributions on several occasions, UK research councils when we could be associated with a university that fronted the research (but mostly we have been ineligible for funding from those sources) and recently, industrially partnered or led, sources such as LINK, Technology Strategy Board and Innovate UK. cf_vtr_sprmn_jd_750

The site will concentrate on the topics in the header line, the content of which will appear in the right hand menu.  It will be linked to the Living Field web site www.livingfield.co.uk which also deals with sustainable systems and environment but more from the angle of crops, cropping systems, historical change in the croplands, natural products, art, craft and community involvement.

A few days before this web site was to go live, Jean Duncan [3], an artist who works with us on the Living Field project fortuitously gave me a proof of her etching ‘supermoon’ (right). And it is with her permission that supermoon is used as the emblem for this site.

[1] Web sites: Agroecology group in Ecological Sciences at the James Hutton Institute. The LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Innovation Centre at the Hutton. Geoff Squire’s staff page at the Hutton. The Centre for Sustainable Cropping at Balruddery Farm managed by Cathy Hawes.

[2] Previous organisations include the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Dundee (one of the two forerunners of the Hutton), the University of Nottingham and several national and international organisations with whom I worked (self-employed, unaffiliated) at various times in the UK, Africa and Asia.

[3] Jean Duncan’s work with the Living Field project can be found at http:///www.livingfield.co.uk/jeanduncanartist and at her own web site jeanduncanartist.com. The supermoon was seen on 16 November 2016.