James Hutton Institute Dundee

(Scottish Crop Research Institute)

Founded as the Scottish Horticultural Research Institute in 1951 on part of the former Mylnefield Estate, the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI) lies to the west of Invergowrie in Perth & Kinross, 3 miles (5 km) west of Dundee. In 2011, it joined with the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen to form the James Hutton Institute. The institute was initially focused on investigating the declining yields in the Scottish soft-fruit crop and was established as a self-governing, grant-aided research organisation in 1953. It is now primarily funded by the Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department. An outstation was established at the West of Scotland Agricultural College at Auchincruive.

In 1981, SCRI absorbed the former Scottish Plant Breeding Station (SPBS) which moved from Edinburgh to Invergowrie, and six years later took managerial responsibility for the Scottish Agricultural Statistics Service (now Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland). SPBS was founded at Craigs House (Edinburgh) in 1921 and was latterly based at Pentlandfield on part of the University of Edinburgh's Bush Estate. It was responsible for new varieties of barley, brassicas, oats and potatoes.

In 1989, SCRI established Mylnefield Research Services Ltd to commercially market their products and consultancy services. The Institute maintains a close relationship with the University of Dundee who base a number of their research staff on the SCRI campus.

With 172 ha (425 acres) of land, 11,000 sq. m (118,402 sq. feet) of glasshouses and a staff of 400, including research students from various Scottish universities, the institute undertakes research on plant growth and their response to pests, pathogens and the environment. They are also responsible for breeding crops with improved quality and nutritional value. Successes have come particularly in terms of soft-fruit, including the Tayberry and Tummelberry, both enlarged bramble-raspberry crosses, together with the bramble varieties Loch Tay and Loch Ness. An important blackcurrant breeding programme, ongoing since 1956, has given rise to varieties such as Ben Lomond (1972), Ben Tirran (1990), noted for its frost-tolerance, and Ben Hope, now the most popular blackcurrant cultivar in the UK. It has been estimated that SCRI-bred blackcurrants account for more than 50% of the global crop. The Glen varieties of raspberry, Pentland varieties of potato and Gowrie variety of swede, together with cultivars of strawberry, are also the work of SCRI.

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