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Karl Richards

Head of Environment Soils & Land Use Department

Research Interests

Investigating nitrogen dynamics in soil, nitrate leaching and denitrification in croplands and grazed grasslands soils. My research is focused on the investigation of options to mitigate N2O from soils (such dietary manipulation, cover crops and the use of nitrification inhibitors); understanding landscape scale nitrogen dynamics; investigating N2/N2O partitioning in soils and aquifers and ammonia emissions. I am a member of the EU Nitrogen Expert Panel and an Irish representative on the Global Research Alliance.

I have successfully supervised 3 PhD and 2 MSc. students . My research team currently consists of 2 post-doc researchers, 7 PhD students and co-supervising 4 PhD students. I am a participant on the National Groundwater Protection Working Group led by the Geological Survey of Ireland. I have published 14 papers since 2005.


Current Projects

  • EU Horizon 2020 project Climate Neutral Farms (ClieNFarms
  • Land-Use, Agriculture and Bioenergy Measures for the Abatement of Climate Change and inclusion in Marginal Abatement Cost Curve analyses (LABMACC)
  • The National Agricultural Soil Carbon Observatory (NASCO
  • Mitigating Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions by improved pH management of soils MAGGEPH evaluating the effect of soil pH on N2O and N2 emissions from Soil
  • Towards a European research and innovation roadmap on soil and land management, Soil Mission Support
  • European Joint Programming on Soil Improving agricultural soil management Soil EJP
  • Manipulation and Integration of Nitrogen Emissions (MINE) evaluating the range of denitrification in Irish agricultural soils
  • Abating Ammonia in Agriculture (Triple A)
  • Vista Milk Research Centre – Quantifying carbon sequestration in Irish grassland soils
  • Ensuring food safety in grass systems using NBPT treated urea (NBPT-Safe)
  • Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences iCRAG 


  • 2014   Management Development Programme Fetac level 6
  • 1999   Post graduate Diploma in Statistics, Trinity College Dublin
  • 1999   PhD. Environmental Geology, Trinity College Dublin
  • 1993   BA (mod.) Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin


  • 2012   Head of Environment, Soils and Land-use Dept., Teagasc, Johnstown                  Castle
  • 2012   Principal Research Officer- Biogeochemistry, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle
  • 2002   Research Officer – hydrochemistry, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle
  • 2000   Scientific Officer, Environmental Protection Agency
  • 1999   Consultant Hydrogeologist (Hydrochemist), URS Dames and Moore
  • 1996   Contract Research Officer (biogeochemistry), Teagasc Johnstown Castle

Dr Richards has published over 125 peer reviewed scientific papers. His publication list can be found on:

Karl's Google Scholar account

Karl's Researcher ID account 

Karl's Orchid ID account

Gebremichael AW, Rahman N, Krol DJ, Richards KG, Forrestal PJ, Lanigan GJ. Ammonium-based compound fertilisers mitigate nitrous oxide emissions in temperate grassland. Agronomy 2021;11(9); doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11091712.

Mooney D, Richards KG, Danaher M, Grant J, Gill L, Mellander PE, Coxon CE. An analysis of the spatio-temporal occurrence of anthelmintic veterinary drug residues in groundwater. Science of the Total Environment 2021;769; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144804.

Machado-Moreira B, Tiwari BK, Richards KG, Abram F, Burgess CM. Application of plasma activated water for decontamination of alfalfa and mung bean seeds. Food Microbiology 2021;96:103708; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fm.2020.103708.

Murphy RM, Richards KG, Krol DJ, Gebremichael AW, Lopez-Sangil L, Rambaud J, Cowan N, Lanigan GJ, Saunders M. Assessing nitrous oxide emissions in time and space with minimal uncertainty using static chambers and eddy covariance from a temperate grassland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 2022;313:108743; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agrformet.2021.108743.

O'Neill RM, Krol DJ, Wall D, Lanigan GJ, Renou-Wilson F, Richards KG, Jansen-Willems AB, Müller C. Assessing the impact of long-term soil phosphorus on N-transformation pathways using 15N tracing. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 2021;152:108066; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2020.108066.

Nag R, Markey BK, Whyte P, O'Flaherty V, Bolton D, Fenton O, Richards KG, Cummins E. A Bayesian inference approach to quantify average pathogen loads in farmyard manure and slurry using open-source Irish datasets. Science of The Total Environment 2021;786:147474; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147474.

Cummins S, Finn JA, Richards KG, Lanigan GJ, Grange G, Brophy C, Cardenas LM, Misselbrook TH, Reynolds CK, Krol DJ. Beneficial effects of multi-species mixtures on N2O emissions from intensively managed grassland swards. Science of The Total Environment 2021;792:148163; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148163.

Ganasamurthy S, Rex D, Samad MS, Richards KG, Lanigan GJ, Grelet G-A, Clough TJ, Morales SE. Competition and community succession link N transformation and greenhouse gas emissions in urine patches. Science of The Total Environment 2021:146318; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146318.

O’Neill M, Saggar S, Richards KG, Luo J, Singh BP, Mehra P, Forrestal PJ. Correction to: Nitrous oxide emission factors in conventionally and naturally simulated cattle urine patches (Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, (2021), 10.1007/s10705-021-10162-5). Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 2021; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10705-021-10175-0.

Bracken CJ, Lanigan GJ, Richards KG, Müller C, Tracy SR, Well R, Carolan R, Murphy PNC. Development and verification of a novel isotopic N2O measurement technique for discrete static chamber samples using cavity ring-down spectroscopy. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry 2021;35(8); doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rcm.9049.

Nkwonta CG, O’neill M, Rahman N, Moloney M, Forrestal PJ, Hogan SA, Richards KG, Cummins E, Danaher M. Development of one-step non-solvent extraction and sensitive uhplc-ms/ms method for assessment of n-(N-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (nbpt) and n-(n-butyl) phosphoric triamide (nbpto) in milk. Molecules 2021;26(10); doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/molecules26102890.

Rahman N, Richards KG, Harty MA, Watson CJ, Carolan R, Krol D, Lanigan GJ, Forrestal PJ. Differing effects of increasing calcium ammonium nitrate, urea and urea + NBPT fertiliser rates on nitrous oxide emission factors at six temperate grassland sites in Ireland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 2021;313:107382; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107382.

Nag R, Auer A, Nolan S, Russell L, Markey BK, Whyte P, O'Flaherty V, Bolton D, Fenton O, Richards KG and others. Evaluation of pathogen concentration in anaerobic digestate using a predictive modelling approach (ADRISK). Science of the Total Environment 2021;800:149574; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.149574.

Jolly B, Luo J, Mehra P, Forrestal P, O'Neill M, Richards KG, Singh BP, Bates G, Saggar S. Evaluation of proximal sensing technologies for mapping bovine urine patches under grazing pastures. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture 2021;188:106309; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compag.2021.106309.

Ashekuzzaman SM, Forrestal P, Richards KG, Daly K, Fenton O. Grassland Phosphorus and Nitrogen Fertiliser Replacement value of Dairy Processing Dewatered Sludge. Sustainable Production and Consumption 2021;25:363-373; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.spc.2020.11.017.

Rex D, Clough TJ, Lanigan GJ, Jansen-Willems AB, Condron LM, Richards KG, Müller C. Gross N transformations vary with soil moisture and time following urea deposition to a pasture soil. Geoderma 2021;386; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2020.114904.

Žurovec O, Wall DP, Brennan FP, Krol DJ, Forrestal PJ, Richards KG. Increasing soil pH reduces fertiliser derived N2O emissions in intensively managed temperate grassland. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 2021;311; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107319.

Murphy RM, Saunders M, Richards KG, Krol DJ, Gebremichael AW, Rambaud J, Cowan N, Lanigan GJ. Nitrous oxide emission factors from an intensively grazed temperate grassland: A comparison of cumulative emissions determined by eddy covariance and static chamber methods. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 2022;324; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107725.

O’Neill M, Saggar S, Richards KG, Luo J, Singh BP, Mehra P, Forrestal PJ. Nitrous oxide emission factors in conventionally and naturally simulated cattle urine patches. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems 2021; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10705-021-10162-5.

Gallagher L, Smith A, Kavanagh K, Devereux M, Colleran J, Breslin C, Richards KG, McCann M, Rooney AD. Preparation and Antimicrobial Properties of Alginate and Serum Albumin/Glutaraldehyde Hydrogels Impregnated with Silver(I) Ions. Chemistry 2021;3(2):672-686; doi https://doi.org/10.3390/chemistry3020047.

Nag R, Nolan S, O'Flaherty V, Fenton O, Richards KG, Markey BK, Whyte P, Bolton D, Cummins E. Quantitative microbial human exposure model for faecal indicator bacteria and risk assessment of pathogenic Escherichia coli in surface runoff following application of dairy cattle slurry and co-digestate to grassland. Journal of Environmental Management 2021;299:113627; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113627.

Nag R, Russell L, Nolan S, Auer A, Markey BK, Whyte P, O'Flaherty V, Bolton D, Fenton O, Richards KG and others. Quantitative microbial risk assessment associated with ready-to-eat salads following the application of farmyard manure and slurry or anaerobic digestate to arable lands. Science of the Total Environment 2021; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151227. Jahangir MMR, Begum R, Jahiruddi

n M, Dawar K, Zaman M, Bell RW, Richards KG, Müller C. Reduced tillage with residue retention and nitrogen application rate increase N2O fluxes from irrigated wheat in a subtropical floodplain soil. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 2021;306:107194; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2020.107194.

Machado-Moreira B, Richards K, Abram F, Brennan F, Gaffney M, Burgess CM. Survival of escherichia coli and listeria innocua on lettuce after irrigation with contaminated water in a temperate climate. Foods 2021;10(9); doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/foods10092072.

Nag R, Monahan C, Whyte P, Markey BK, O'Flaherty V, Bolton D, Fenton O, Richards KG, Cummins E. Risk assessment of Escherichia coli in bioaerosols generated following land application of farmyard slurry. Science of The Total Environment 2021;791:148189; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148189.

Bracken CJ, Lanigan GJ, Richards KG, Müller C, Tracy SR, Grant J, Krol DJ, Sheridan H, Lynch MB, Grace C and others. Source partitioning using N2O isotopomers and soil WFPS to establish dominant N2O production pathways from different pasture sward compositions. Science of The Total Environment 2021:146515; doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146515.

O'Mara F, Richards KG, Shalloo L, Donnellan T, Finn JA, Lanigan G. Sustainability of ruminant livestock production in Ireland. Animal Frontiers 2021;11(4):32-43; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/af/vfab037.

Samad MS, Ganasamurthy S, Highton MP, Bakken LR, Clough TJ, de Klein CAM, Richards KG, Lanigan GJ, Morales SE. Urea treatment decouples intrinsic pH control over N2O emissions in soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 2021;163; doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108461.