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Karen Daly

Research Officer

Research Interests

I am a Senior Research Officer in Environmental Science with research interests in soils, catchment science, sensors and spectroscopy. My research operates across multiple scales, namely: mechanistic processes for soil health at profile scale; the fate and transfer of pollutants at catchment scale; regional and national scale risk assessment in water quality research, spectral soil sensing and isotope tracing. My research includes themes such as sustainable circular bio-economies and sustainable food systems. Our group examines the impact of bio-wastes on soil health and use phosphorus isotope tracing techniques to model the turnover of phosphorus in soils. The soil sensing and spectroscopy programme combines benchtop/portable spectroscopy with machine learning to predict indicators of soil health, specifically; soil fertility, organic matter, carbon sequestration, particle size and phosphorus supply potential.    

My research team consists of 2 post docs, 2 technologists and 6 Ph.D. students and we work across many projects.

Research Team

Post-doctoral Research Fellows:

  • Bastiaan Molleman
  • Rebecca Hall


PHD Students:

  • Longnan Shi
  • Sifan Yang
  • Rachel Bracker
  • Olha Khomenko
  • Wenxual Shi
  • Maame Croffie

Current Projects

  • Terra Soil: Developing agri-environmental indicators from Tellus spectral libraries and archives with GSI
  • REFLOW ITN Valorising bio-waste for agricultural soils and assessing the impact on soil health. EU H2020 Research and Innovation Programme reflowproject.eu
  • SARMENTI Smart sensing techniques for soil and air monitoring EU H2020 Research and Innovation Programme sarmenti-project.eu
  • SENSUS: Sensing nutrients for sustainable food systems DAFM RSF
  • RoadRunner: Visual and risk assessment of nutrient loss from farm roads EPA funded
  • WaterMarke: Water quality risk assessment at farm scale. EPA funded
  • Predicting soil C using FTIR spectroscopy: Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Fund
  • The application of XRF for soil fertility: Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Fund


  • 2015  FETAC Level 6 Certificate in Managing People
  • 2006  World Reference Base training in soil classification, Joint Research Council
  • 2000  Ph.D. Environmental Science, Trinity College Dublin
  • 1993  M.Sc. Synthetic Organic Chemistry
  • 1990  B.A. (Hons) Chemistry (2.1), Trinity College Dublin

Karen has published over 65 scientific papers and regurarly posts links for her research and publications on twitter @KarenDaly053. A full list of publications are available on ORCID, Google Scholar and Scopus.

Karen's Orcid account

Karen's Google Scholar account

Karen's ResearchGate account

Web of Science ResearcherID: AAN-3143-204

The dark mysteries of the soil beneath our feet - RTE Publication

Regan, J. Fenton, O., Daly, K., Grant, J., Wall, D., Healy, M. Effects of overland flow on critical soil test phosphorus thresholds in tillage soils. 2014. Water Air Soil Pollution. 225.

Daly, K. and Casey, A. (2005). Environmental aspects of soil phosphorus testing. Irish Journal of Agriculture and Food Research. 44: 261-279.

Jordan, P., Menary, W., Daly, K., Kiely, G., Morgan, G., Byrne, P. and Moles, R. (2005). Patterns and processes of phosphorus transfer from Irish grassland soils to rivers - integration of laboratory andcatchment studies. Journal of Hydrology 304, 20-34  ISSN 0022-1694  11138  A1 .

Doody, D., Moles, R., Tunney, H., Kurz, I., Bourke, D., Daly, K. and O'Regan, B. (2006). Impact of flow path length and flow rate on phosphorus loss in simulated overland flow from a humic gleysol grassland soil. Science of the Total Environment 372: 1, 247-255  ISSN 0044-9697  13233.  

Daly, K., Mills, P., Coulter, B.S. and McGarrigle, M. (2002). Modelling river phosphorus concentrations using land use, soil type and soil phosphorus data. Journal of Environmental Quality.

Daly, K., Jeffrey, D. and Tunney, H. (2001). The effect of soil type on phosphorus sorption capacity and desorption dynamics in Irish grassland soils. Soil Use and Management 17: 12-20  6575 .