Environment Plant Interactions

Image of the SCRI site looking towards the River TaySCRI's environmental science research spans across disciplines to gain a holistic understanding of how plants respond to and modify environmental processes. Scottish Government commissioned research is gaining an in-depth understanding of the environment in arable farming systems and this is being used to advise on policy development in Scotland. These skills have also been applied to emerging issues relevant to the UK and Europe, including the UK’s Farm Scale Evaluations, international working groups, IPDM-based alternatives to pesicides and EU-wide studies on the ecological impacts of GM plants.

The environment and the ecology of plants and pests are our key research areas, investigated by a strong multidisciplinary team of scientists in entomology, pathology, plant sciences, vegetation ecology, phytochemistry, mathematical modelling and soil sciences. A major area of interest is integrating processes that occur above ground and in the soil. Research conducted on plant interactions with soil has extended from the understanding of sustainable arable systems to ‘green’ engineering solutions for slope stabilisation with vegetation.

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The research covers these main themes

Agroecology

Society must achieve a stable balance in future arable-grass ecosystems between what it removes for food or fodder and what it leaves to sustain the organisms on which the system depends. These organisms - plants, animals and microbes - mediate the global cycles of energy and matter. They control pest populations, detoxify pollutants and form the aesthetic qualities of the farmed landscape. Questions on reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture can only be answered by knowing and managing these plants, animals and microbes. The Agroecology group works at scales from the landscape to the individual to develop principles by which to manage the long term functioning and resilience of the arable-grass ecosystem. Whole-organism and community biology are combined in a strong base of statistics and mathematical modelling. Our findings inform national and international policy on production systems, biodiversity and ecological biosafety. Read more on the Agroecology page.

PlantSoil Interactions

Soil is one of the most complex biological habitats on earth, but its ability to support plants and buffer environmental impacts deteriorates with poor land management. Our research examines how plants and microorganisms interact with soil and how biota can improve their surrounding environment to make it more resilient to the stresses of land use and climate change. We have a strong research team that integrates understanding of biological, physical and chemical properties of soil at the root–soil interface and beyond. Read more on the PlantSoil Interactions pages.

Resource Capture

A range of resources, including light, water and mineral nutrients, are critical in order for plants to grow and reproduce. The complexity of the agro-environment means that the most limiting of these resources to crop production changes both temporally and spatially at a range of scales. Find out  more about the group's research on the Resource Capture page.

Contact: Philip White