Scottish agricultural knowledge and innovation system

Transformation in agricultural land management is critical to achieving Scottish Government’s aims of mitigating climate change, addressing the biodiversity crisis and achieving a just transition for land and agriculture.

Providing advice and collaborative learning opportunities through the Farm Advisory Service (FAS) is the key mechanism to deliver behaviour change in the agricultural sector. The Scottish Government is seeking to better integrate the FAS into an agricultural knowledge and innovation system (AKIS) for Scotland. AKIS is a system of innovation that links organisations, institutions, incentives and funding.

This research comprised an evidence review and options appraisal for an agricultural knowledge and innovation system for Scotland. The report presents 35 options that the research considered in detail. The options presented are across six themes:

  • Creating a unified AKIS
  • Regionalisation and specialisation
  • Support peer-to-peer learning and farmer collaboration
  • Promote diversity and generational renewal in the agricultural sector
  • Digital opportunities and upskilling
  • AKIS capacity building


Creating a responsive, inclusive AKIS for Scotland requires carving new pathways between actors and rethinking service provision. The Farm Advisory Service has had very positive reviews to date. Pursuing many of the options identified in this report would represent a major re-organisation and re-allocation of resources. Detailed planning and consultation would be required to ensure that new approaches add value. Expansion of supports to cohorts in addition to farmers and crofters (eg foresters, community land owners, new landowners primarily focused on carbon offsetting or rewilding) will require reorientation of resources or increased investment. A collaborative approach across policy areas would be required to achieve an effective, system-wide transformation.

For further details, please download the report.

If you require the report in an alternative format, such as a Word document, please contact or 0131 651 4783.