Institute in Land Quality Research .

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THE Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, based in Aberdeen, is to investigate its way in which land quality could be taken into account in any future support scheme for the Less Favoured Areas in Scotland.

The project has been commissioned by the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD) and will explore how a more sensitive land classification system (using types of vegetation) might be used to inform future support arrangements for hill and upland farmers.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of July.

The distinction between the quality of in-bye and rough grazing has been recognised in the new Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme to be operated by SERAD, but existing systems are not sensitive enough to take account of the large differences that occur in the grazing quality and environmental value of different rough grazings.

Dr Iain Wright, who is in charge of the project at the Macaulay, said: ``The problem with the rough grazings is that there is a huge range in potential stocking rates simply because this land type varies, from good quality semi-natural grassland to blanket bog, but, given better definition, it should be possible to reflect agricultural potential in payment rates. …