The SRUC Hill and Mountain Research Centre is based at Kirkton and Auchtertyre farms in the Scottish Highlands and is centre for research into sustainable land management in hill and mountain areas.
Davy McCracken (Head of SRUC Hill & Mountain Research Centre and Head of Integrated Land Management)
The 2200 ha Highland estate extends from 170m to 1025m, and ranges from high quality and productive grazing to high altitude semi-natural habitats of high conservation value. The livestock enterprise, like much of the highlands of Scotland, is concentrated on hill sheep, with currently more than 1,600 sheep (ewes, hogs and gimmers), and a small herd of Aberdeen Angus cross cattle.
To seek economically, environmentally and socially sustainable land management systems in the context of international, national and local land use policies, with an emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Staff manage projects that utilise the livestock, land and vegetation of the farms. The research conducted at Kirkton & Auchtertyre contributes to policy and science education as well as work on environmental resilience and improving upland agricultural productivity. The Kirkton & Auchtertyre farm is also a Farm Platform on the Global Farm Platform, sharing knowledge and data globally.
New native woodlands, extensive lowland and hill paths, and Strathfillan Wigwams (a glamping tourism business) and its farm shop have been established to diversify the land-based opportunities on the farms.
The Centre has also established a group of local farmers who come together three times a year to discuss grassland management issues.
A major focus of the work is helping drive forward innovation that has the potential to change the economic viability of hill farming and crofting in Scotland and beyond. Current interests focus upon:
Sheep Electronic Identification is used on the farm with greater focus on digital technology, sensors, real-time information with soils etc.