Picture of                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Richard E. Farrell

Richard E. Farrell Associate Professor and Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Chair

5E18 - Agriculture Building

Research Area(s)

  • Environmental agronomy
  • Quantification & mitigation of soil-derived greenhouse gases
  • Nutrient cycling & cropping systems


Soil Science

Brief Biography

I am a native Rhode Islander (a state roughly 200-times smaller than Saskatchewan) and was educated at the University of Rhode Island and Iowa State University. Though I grew up in the city, I have been interested in soil science since I was 13 and a friend of mine jokingly suggested doing a science project on soils because “there’s nothing alive in soils” . . . . oh, was he wrong! So, I did my project on “Soils and Soil Conservation”, and managed to win 2nd prize in the local science fair—though one of the judges said that the study of soils wasn’t real science . . . . oh, was he wrong! So, here I am many years later, still studying what I love at one of the best Soil Science Departments in North America.

Research Interests

Sustainable development of our soil resources is the foundation on which agricultural production is based, and is crucial to ensuring future food security. One key issue facing farmers in Saskatchewan and across the globe is climate change—and the role that agricultural soils can play in helping to mitigate against further increases in global mean temperature. Successful greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation programs require both reliable inventories of current emissions and the ability to forecast management-induced changes on these emissions.

My research addresses both of these requirements by addressing the impacts of agricultural management on GHG emissions from integrated agricultural landscapes and the development of advanced fertilizer management strategies. The centerpiece of this research is the Prairie Environmental Agronomy Research Laboratory (PEARL), of which I am co-lead scientist. The PEARL supports research aimed at developing innovative solutions to the problems facing today’s producers by identifying strategies that enhance, maintain, or re-establish agroecosystem capacity and integrity while providing definable environmental benefits; e.g., mitigating nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions and promoting carbon sequestration.


  • Ph.D. (Soil Chemistry), Iowa State University
  • M.Sc. (Soil Chemistry), Iowa State University
  • B.Sc. (Resource Development), University of Rhode Island

Selected Publications

Amadi, C.C., Van Rees, K.C.J., and Farrell, R.E.  2017.  Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of shelterbelts: Estimating farm-scale emission reductions using the Holos model. Canadian Journal of Soil Science, 97: 353-367.  https://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjss-2016-0017 

Karppinen, E.M., Stewart, K.J., Farrell, R.E., and Siciliano, S.D.  2017.  Petroleum hydrocarbon remediation in frozen soil using a meat and bonemeal biochar plus fertilizer. Chemosphere, 173: 330-339.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.01.016

Amadi, C.C., Van Rees, K.C.J. and Farrell, R.E.  2016.  Soil-atmosphere exchange of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in shelterbelts compared with adjacent cropped fields. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 223: 123-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2016.02.026

Balogianni, V.G., Wilson, S.D., Farrell, R.E., and MacDougall, A.S.  2015.  Rapid root decomposition decouples root length from increased soil C sequestration following grassland invasion.  Ecosystems, 18(8): 1307-1318.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-015-9900-y 

Brummell, M.E., Farrell, R.E., Hardy, S.P., and Siciliano, S.D.  2014.  Greenhouse gas production and consumption in High Arctic deserts.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 68: 158-165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2013.09.034

Arcand, M.M., Knight, J.D., and Farrell, R.E.  2013.  Estimating belowground nitrogen inputs of pea and canola and their contribution to soil inorganic N pools using 15N labeling.  Plant and Soil, 371(1-2): 67-80.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-013-1626-z 

Braun, M., Bai, Y., McConkey, B., Farrell, R., Romo, J.T., and Pennock, D.  2013.  Greenhouse gas flux in a temperate grassland as affected by landform and disturbance.  Landscape Ecology, 28: 709-723. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-013-9878-9  

Current Funding

Farrell, R.E., R.L. Lemke, J.D. Knight and B. Helgason. (April 2016 to March 2019). Identifying the mechanisms responsible for greater than expected residue-induced N2O emissions from canola and flax. Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture–Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) and the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission (SaskCanola).

Farrell, R.E., J.D. Knight, R. Lemke, B. Helgason, & M. Arcand (April 2014 to March 2019). Quantifying the contribution of pulse crop residues to greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen nutrition and the growth of a subsequent wheat crop: A dual isotope labeling approach. Saskatchewan Pulse Crop Development Board (SPCDB); Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture–Agriculture Development Fund (ADF); and Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF).

Farrell, R.E., D. Tomasiewicz, F.L.Walley, & R.L. Lemke (April 2015 to September 2018). Can enhanced efficiency N fertilizers mitigate against N losses in single-pass seeding operations? Agriculture Development Fund, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture; Western Grains Research Foundation; and Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.

Farrell, R.E., Lemke, R.L. & Tomasiewicz, D. (April 2015 to September 2018). Determining the environmental optimum rate of fertilizer N for irrigated canola in the semi-arid prairies. Agriculture Development Fund, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture; Fertilizer Canada; and the International Plant Nutrition Institute.

Tenuta, M., R. Farrell, and G. Hernandez-Ramirez (April 1 2015 to September 30, 2018). A matter of timing and source: Enhanced efficiency nitrogen fertilizers and products to reduce nitrous oxide emissions in the prairie provinces. Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC). [Note: R. Farrell is the lead on the SK component of this tri-province project.]


  • SLSC 835.2 – Physical Chemical and Biological Characterization of Soils