Rachael has a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Natural Science with a specialization in Botany from Trinity College Dublin and an MSc in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security from the National University of Ireland, Galway. From her academic background, Rachael has developed a strong interest in plant-environment interactions, climate change and lower-emission agriculture.
PhD project: Manipulation and Integration of Nitrogen Emissions (MINE)
Rachael is currently working on assessing the spatial and temporal dynamics of nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions from fertilized and grazed grassland ecosystems. Key objectives from this project will include: 1) spatially and temporally integrating N2O emissions to help quantify N2O ‘hotspots’ and 2) investigating N2O emissions associated with fertilizer applications and animal excreta from a full field production system.
It will involve a range of techniques including static chambers, eddy covariance and gas chromatography. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) with a global warming potential of 298 and a life span of 100 years. On a global scale it is therefore important to mitigate against this GHG but is also extremely relevant on the national scale too. In 2016 in Brussels, the European Commission announced the legally binding GHG emission reduction targets for each member state. For Ireland, this means reducing emissions by 20% of 2005’s levels by 2020 and by 30% by 2030. As Ireland’s agriculture sector accounts for approximately 1/3 of all GHG emissions, it is within the best interests of the nation to improve and develop agricultural systems which are environmentally sound. One step in achieving this is investigating GHG emissions derived from agriculture.
Dr Matthew Saunders (TCD) and Dr Gary Lanigan (Teagasc)