Scotland beefs up scientific links with Argentina

With a strong reputation in cattle science, along with access to world-leading facilities, Scottish researchers are set to help farmers in South America tackle the carbon footprint of their production methods in a country which is a major exporter and consumer of beef.

A young gaucho with Aberdeen Angus cattle
A young gaucho with Aberdeen Angus cattle

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA) of Argentina - a country where the average per-head consumption of beef stands at over 100lbs a year – more than four times the average UK consumer.

But with over 53 million cattle - the sixth highest total in the world and close to five per cent of all cattle on Earth – the country’s production levels dwarf Scotland’s national herd of 1.6 million.

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The agreement will see SRUC scientists share information on sustainable management practices as well as technological innovations in food production with the aim of cutting emissions per kg of beef produced.

It is hoped the arrangement will lead to an increase in the use of digital tools and protocols for estimating the carbon balance of food production in Argentina, with a particular focus on the extensive nature of the country’s cattle systems.

The agreement also means INTA is renewing the commitment it has been developing with other institutions from different countries in terms of innovation systems in the digitalisation processes of agriculture,automation and data exchange in technology and processes.

The adoption of techniques such as drones, robotics, remote measurements to monitor crops, livestock, soil conditions, and satellites to monitor climate are examples likely to be taken up by the industry in Argentina with the aim of optimising agricultural practices to make them more effective and efficient, as well as supporting decision making, investment and the policies it promotes.

SRUC said it would benefit from access to the wide range of production systems in geographical areas seen in Argentina ranging from the sub-tropical, humid Pampas and arid mountains to the Patagonian Desert.

An online meeting between the organisations focused on routes for achieving net zero in livestock production, which covered baseline measurements for carbon stock and emissions, breeding for low emissions, genomics and the possibilities offered by SRUC’s GreenCow facilities.

A second online event focused on the adoption of agri-tech and considered all aspects of food production as one system. Future funding opportunities for joint collaborations will also be sought by both organisations.

Teresa Shutter, Head of SRUC’s Innovation Hub, said: “This initiative opens new opportunities to partner in our efforts to reach net zero food systems and preserve our global natural environment.”

Dr Guillermo Sanchez, Manager of Institutional Relations at INTA, said: “We are delighted to sign this Memorandum of Understanding with SRUC, which gives us an excellent opportunity to gain better knowledge of sustainable management practices and technological innovations in food production.”

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