Dr Karen Rial-Lovera


Dr Karen Rial-Lovera is a Senior Lecturer in Agriculture and the Course Lead for the BSc (Hons) in Agriculture and the BSc(Hons) Agricultural Management (Top-Up). Karen graduated as Agricultural Engineer and holds an MSc in Agriculture and Forestry Research from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Following this, Karen completed her PhD in Crop Systems in collaboration with the RAU and Coventry University, focusing on how soil cultivations, nutrient management and intercropping affected soil health and crop productivity. After completing her PhD, Karen worked as a consultant in agricultural development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. She then worked as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Engineering at the RAU as the Douglas Bomford Trust Chair until 2019. She then moved to Nottingham Trent University where she led the BSc (Hons) in Agriculture course and taught across UG and PG courses. Karen returned to RAU in October 2023.

University responsibilities

  • Programme Lead for BSc (Hons) in Agriculture and BSc(Hons) Agricultural Management (Top-Up)
  • UG and PG dissertation supervision
  • PhD supervision

Professional membership

  • Council Member of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)


  • Field Crop Research
  • BBSRC Research Grants Board

Research interests

Karen’s current research focuses on agroecological practices and their effects on crop growth and quality and their ecosystem services. She has previously worked in agricultural development and agroforestry in Europe and Africa and has led research in sustainable intensification with the adoption of agri-tech technologies for smallholder farmers.

Recent research funding

  • NTU Vice-Chancellor PhD Scheme 2022-23. PhD project: Are rhizosphere farming practices the key to a sustainable future? In collaboration with the University of Bologna. Total budget £45,000
  • NTU’s ARES Innovation Farm, a network of farm-based trials on i) soil health and quality; ii) Integrated pest and weed management; iii) Innovation in Precision Agriculture. Principal Investigator, NTU Strategic Research Funding 2021-22, Total Budget: £36,000
  • DEFRA Plant Health Programme 2020-21. The role of trees in integrated pest management strategies in agricultural landscapes. Co-Investigator in collaboration with Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Cranfield University and Imperial College London. Total Budget: £17,000
  • STN Food Network+. 2018-19. Remote sensing of soil water content. Co-Investigator in collaboration with Durham University and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Total budget £8,000


  • 1123 Mechanisation & Buildings
  • 2342 Farm Business Planning & Operations
  • 2374 Crop Technology & Mechanisation
  • 2373 Agronomy
  • 3338 Agronomy Challenges and Solutions
  • 4038A Integrated Agricultural Systems


Peer-review publications

  • Ingram J, et al. 2022. What are the priority research questions for digital agriculture? Land Use Policy, 114. Art 105962. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2021.105962     
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Cannon ND, Conway JS. 2016. Influences of tillage systems and nitrogen management on yield, grain protein and N-use efficiency in UK spring wheat. Journal of Agricultural Science. 154(8), 1437-1452. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021859616000058   
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Cannon ND, Conway JS. 2016. Weed species composition in spring wheat after contrasting soil tillage and nitrogen management. Annals of Applied Biology. 169(2), 236-247. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/aab.12294   
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Cannon ND. 2016. Implication of climate change predictions for UK cropping and prospect for possible mitigation: A review of challenges and potential responses. Journal of Food Science and Agriculture. 1-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.7767   
  • Ferreiro-Dominguez N, Rigueiro-Rodriguez A, Rial-Lovera KE, Romero-Franco R, Mosquera-Losada MR. 2016. Effect of grazing on carbon sequestration and tree growth that is developed in a silvopastoral system under wild cherry (Prunus avium L.). Catena. 142, 11-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.catena.2016.02.002  

Contributions to conferences

  • Rial-Lovera K. 2018. Agricultural Robotics: perceptions, barriers and drivers. 14th Conference on Precision Agriculture, Montreal, Canada. June 2018 
  • Burbi S,  Rial-Lovera K. 2017. Pathways to resilience in small-scale farming - The case of England. Resilience Frontiers for Global Sustainability. August 21-23 2017. Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Cannon ND. 2016. Energy and economic evaluation of spring wheat production under contrasting tillage systems and nitrogen fertilisation management. International Conference on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Land Use. Budapest, Hungary.  May 2016.
  • Matthew JM, Lane GPF, Davies WP, Rial-Lovera K. 2016. Short-term fertility-building crop influences on crop performance in arable farming.  International Conference on Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Land Use. Budapest, Hungary.  May 2016.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Conway JS, Cannon ND.  2015. Advancing soil management in a changing climate: A recent UK experience. Global Cleaner Production & Sustainable Consumption Conference. Barcelona, Spain. Nov 2015.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Conway JS, Cannon ND. 2015. Reflections on soil cultivation influences on wheat performance. SCI Agriscience Young Researchers Conference 2015. Syngenta, Jealott’s Hill, UK. Jul 2015.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Vijaya Bhaskar AV, Cannon ND, Davies WP. 2014. Influences of contrasting cultivation techniques on spring wheat performance. Challenges for Crop Production & Quality. Annals of Applied Biology Centenary Conference. Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, UK. Dec 2014.
  • Vijaya Bhaskar AV, Rial-Lovera K, Davies WP, Cannon ND. 2014. Weed prevalence under organic and low-input cultivation systems. Agronomic decision making in an uncertain climate, Aspect of Applied Biology. 125
  • Rial-Lovera K, Cannon N, Davies W P, Conway J. 2013. Development of a low-input farming system in the South West of England. 5th CREST Research Symposium. London, UK. Dec 2013.
  • Rial-Lovera K, Cannon N, Davies W P, Conway J. 2013. Managing establishment and crop input decisions following reversion from organic farming to a low-input cropping system. Crop Resource Use Efficiency and Field Phenotyping Conference. Association of Applied Biologist. Nr Grantham, UK. Mar 2013. 
  • Mosquera-Losada R M, Ferreiro-Dominguez N, Rial-Lovera K, Urban-Martinez I, Rigueiro-Rodriguez A. 2012. Soil density and carbon sequestration changes in Prunus silvopastoral systems. 1st European Agroforestry Conference ‘Priorities for European Agroforestry’. Brussels, Belgium. Oct 2012.

Other publications

Invited Speaker

  • IAI Programme for Farm491, 2018. Global innovations in Agri-tech.
  • Hartnell Community College & Western Growers Innovation Center. Global perspectives for agritech. California, U.S. Dec 2017.

ORCiD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4810-228X