Innovation in Scottish Agriculture

The Rural Innovation Support Service Fast Breeders are among three projects to receive innovation funding from the Scottish Government

Creating new breeding technology and developing new bedding for cattle are among the exciting agriculture projects to share more than £175,000 of investment.

Awarded through the £6 million Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF), the funding will help drive forward innovation in farming and food production, diversifying jobs and boosting incomes.  

Announcing the funding during a visit to Dourie Farm in Port William in Galloway to meet with one of the funding recipients, Rural Affairs Minister Mairi Gougeon said:

“Our rural businesses are full of people with the skills, expertise and potential to drive the rural economy forward. All they need is the right support, delivered at the right time. This £175,000 investment will help diversify their skill-set and ensure innovative technology is at the forefront of our farming and food production industry. 

Picture: the Fast Breeders L-R Charlie Russell, Rory Christie, Minister Mairi Gougeon, Graham Armstrong and RISS lead David Michie. CREDIT Andy Buchanan

“The project I’m visiting today is to receive funding to focus on addressing the slow rate of genetic improvement in dairy cattle on the female side and to deliver new breeding technologies.

“The Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) were granted funding for two other projects. The first of those is looking at the practical, environmental and financial feasibility of using woodchip bedding for livestock in the west of Scotland, the second aims to evidence the financial and environmental value of moving breeding cattle to lower cost natural resources.

“Innovation is key to transforming our productivity and is one of the four economic priorities of this Government.”

Picture: the Fast Breeders aim to breed only from the best dairy cows. CREDIT Andy Buchanan

Dairy farmer Rory Christie, who runs Dourie Farm, said:

“The Rural Innovation Support Service helped us get a viable proposal together for a genetic improvement programme, alongside Mike Coffey of SRUC. The KTIF funding now allows us to get started on the work we need to do. Genetic indexing is the first step. We hope that the eventual genetic gains we make from a full breeding programme will not only improve the resilience and sustainability of our own grass-based dairy farms, but can also be shared as a blueprint for improvement across the whole livestock sector.”

Deputy director of Soil Association Scotland and Rural Innovation Support Service (RISS) lead David Michie said:

“The Rural Innovation Support Service is an important mechanism for farmers to find innovative, local solutions to some of the challenges agriculture faces today, which stem from the central question of how to produce food profitably, in harmony with the natural environment. Farmers are time-poor but they know what’s best for their business. RISS provides a facilitator whose job it is to get the right people together from all along the supply chain and get their idea off the ground: help them access funding if need be, or just figure out how to get started.”

Picture: Collecting milk samples for herd data. CREDIT Andy Buchanan


To date the Scottish Government has awarded over £5 million to 21 projects through the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund (KTIF).

SRUC via The Fast Breeders project have been awarded £99,789.  A group of three farmers are seeking to improve the output of their dairy herds through genetic selection and advance reproductive techniques.  The project addresses the slow rate of genetic improvement in dairy cattle on the female side. 

The second project is the East/West Beed Grazing Collaboration Pilot run by the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS) who have been awarded £43,620.  It involves a trial between two movements of breeding cattle from east to west for summer/backend grazing and to trial two movements of breeding cattle from west to east for out wintering on forage crops.  They hope to evidence the financial and environmental value of moving cattle to lower cost natural resources.

The third project is the Practical, Environmental and Financial Feasibility of using Woodchip Bedding for Livestock in the West of Scotland run by SAOS.  They have been awarded £35,482 for the project. They aim to provide an affordable alternative to straw which has drastically increased in price over the last three years. Instead, locally produced chipped wood is to be used as bedding.



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