Professor Neal Menzies

Head of School - SAFS

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences
Faculty of Science
+61 7 54601 047
+61 7 336 51174


Neal Menzies has a passion for agriculture and the environment, and has used his role as a teacher and research leader to bring others into this highly rewarding field. He believes that environmental scientists must go further than identifying where human activity is harming the environment, they must also deliver workable solutions to the problems. While his research spans a range of agricultural and environmental chemistry issues, he considers himself primarily a soil scientist, and sees soil science as a central discipline in the solution of a broad range of problems.

Neal’s main research interests are phyto-toxicity of metals, and in particular aluminium, surface charge chemistry, and the management of nutrients in tropical farming systems.

Neal is Past President of the Australian Society of Soil Science, and a Past Vice-President of the International Union of Soil Science.

Neal is currently Dean of Agriculture, and leads the School of Agriculture and Food Science.

Research Interests

  • Nutrient dynamics in traditional and improved farming systems and in drastically disturbed lands.
    Upland farming systems in south-east Asia and the Pacific still largely rely on the native fertility of the soil, while those in India (and Australia) supplement soil fertility with fertilizers to some extent. These systems are progressively degrading; capturing developing world farming families in a downward spiral of poverty, and in Australia degrading the soil resource. I am involved in research aimed at increasing fertility through organic matter management and through the introduction of mineral fertilizers. In more developed systems, inputs are used to sustain yields, but these are often not in balance with nutrient removal and nutrient depletion can result, or in those instances where inputs are excessive environmental contamination may result. Research projects are ongoing in Australia and India, and a project is under development for the Pacific Island nations. In drastically disturbed lands, research aims to provide information on the fate of applied fertilisers and to quantify the effects of soil profile mixing on the ability of the replaced soil to supply nutrients to the developing ecosystem. Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus have been the particular focus of research. Current and recent projects in this theme are “Nutrient mass balance of horticulture systems in the Lockyer Valley” (SEQ Catchments), “Nutrient management in rain-fed cropping systems of the northern grains region DAQ00084” (GRDC), “Integrated manure management in soybean/wheat cropping systems on vertisols in Madhya Pradesh and Queensland” (ACIAR), “Assessment of soil management options under powerline easements” (Powerlink) and “Soil fertility management in the PNG Highlands for sweetpotato based cropping systems” (ACIAR)
  • Management of soils to reduce greenhouse gas emisions
    Soil can act as both sink and source of carbon depending on how it is used. A key aspect is the management of nitrogen in the system, as inefficient use of nitrogen fertilizers lead directly to nitrous oxide emissions (a potent greenhouse gas), and indirectly to increased emission of carbon dioxide in the production of fertilizer. Current research includes assessment of carbon sequestration in grazing systems (including methods for the quantification of carbon and its forms), cropping management strategies to improve nitrogen use efficiency, and the use of organic waste streams as inputs to build carbon stores in agricultural soils (including use as composts and biochar).
  • Phyto-toxicity of metals and metalloids.
    Metal contamination from mining and refining industries, and from agriculture (and in some instances naturally occurring high metal availability), limits plant growth and presents a risk to grazing animals and to humans through food chain contamination. Research in progress aims to better understand metal bioavailability, and in particular the chemistry of the root rhizosphere and root apoplasm. Projects in this theme are “Plant cell wall – aluminium interactions: a role in aluminium stress” (ARC) “Evaluation of heavy metal tolerance in grass species” (CRC-CARE).
  • Soil water balance and nutrient movement in sewage and intensive animal waste disposal systems
    Land application of wastes is used as an alternative to disposal into streams. Successful disposal onto land requires the establishment of a balance between water and nutrient inputs and plant uptake. At present little information is available to guide the design of such systems for the tropics. Experimental systems based on tree, pasture and cropping combinations are being evaluated. Research aims to better understanding the rate of release of nutrient from wastes, rates of nutrient and water usage by the vegetation, and the applicability local conditions of models developed in a temperate environment.


  • Graduate Certificate in Education, The University of Queensland
  • Certified Professional Soil Scientist (Lvl 3)
  • Bachelor of Agricultural Science, The University of Queensland
  • Master of Agricultural Studies, The University of Queensland
  • PhD, The University of Queensland


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Book Chapter

  • Wehr, Johannes Bernhard , Blamey, Frederick Paxton Cardell , Kopittke, Peter Martin and Menzies, Neal William (2020). Aluminum. Managing global resources and universal processes. (pp. 155-174) edited by Brian D. Fath and Sven Erik Jorgensen. Boca Raton, FL, United States: CRC Press/Routledge.

  • Dang, Yash P., Page, Kathryn L., Dalal, Ram C. and Menzies, Neal W. (2020). No-till farming systems for sustainable agriculture: an overview. No-till farming systems for sustainable agriculture. (pp. 3-20) edited by Yash P. Dang, Ram C. Dalal and Neal W. Menzies. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-46409-7_1

  • Page, Kathryn L., Dang, Yash P., Menzies, Neal W. and Dalal, Ram C. (2020). No-till systems to sequester soil carbon: potential and reality. No-till farming systems for sustainable agriculture: challenges and opportunities. (pp. 301-317) edited by Yash P. Dang, Ram C. Dalal and Neal W. Menzies. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-46409-7_18

  • Wehr, Johannes Bernhard, Blamey, Frederick Paxton Cardell and Menzies, Neal William (2017). Aluminum. Encyclopaedia of soil science. (pp. 105-110) edited by Lal Rattan. New York, United States: CRC Press (Taylor and Francis).

  • Wehr, Johannes Bernhard, Blamey, Frederick Paxton Cardell and Menzies, Neal William (2017). Aluminum. Encyclopedia of Soil Science. (pp. 105-110) edited by R. Lal. Boca Raton, FL United States: CRC Press. doi: 10.1081/E-ESS3-120025114

  • Dalal, Ram C., Kopittke, Peter M. and Menzies, Neal W. (2017). Impact of climate change on soil carbon storage. The nexus of soils, plants, animals and human health. (pp. 156-163) edited by Bal Ram Singh, Michael J. McLaughlin and Eric Brevik. Stuttgart, Germany: Schweizerbart Science Publishers.

  • Blamey, F. Pax C., Kopittke, Peter M., Wehr, J. Bernhard and Menzies, Neal W. (2015). Aluminum. Handbook of Plant Nutrition. (pp. 567-606) edited by Allen V. Barker and David J. Pilbeam. Boca Raton Florida, United States: CRC Press. doi: 10.1201/b18458-21

  • Wehr, J. B., Blamey, F. P. C. and Menzies, N. W. (2012). Aluminum. Encyclopedia of Environmental Management. (pp. 269-278) edited by Sven Erik Jorgenson. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

  • Wightwick, Adam, Walters, Robert, Allinson, Graeme, Reichman, Suzanne and Menzies, Neal (2010). Environmental risks of fungicides used in horticultural production systems. Fungicides. (pp. 273-304) edited by Odile Carisse. Reijka, Croatia: InTech.

  • Kopittke, Peter M., Lombi, Enzo, Menzies, Neal W. and Naidu, Ravi (2010). Principles of plant-based remediation of contaminated soils. Industrial crops and uses. (pp. 446-469) edited by Bharat P. Singh. Oxfordshire, U.K. ; Cambridge, MA., U.S.A.: CABI. doi: 10.1079/9781845936167.0446

  • Menzies, Neal W. (2007). Redox processes and attenuation of metal availability in soils. Natural Attenuation of Trace Element Availability in Soils. (pp. 137-156) edited by Rebecca Hamon, Mike McLaughlin, Enzo Lombi and Joseph W. Gorsuch. Boca Raton: CRC/Taylor & Francis. doi: 10.1201/9781420042832

  • Menzies, N. W. (2003). Toxic elements in acid soils: chemistry and measurement. Handbook of Soil Acidity. (pp. 267-296) edited by Z. Rengel. New York: Marcel Dekker Inc..

  • Rimmer, D.L., Reichman, S. and Menzies, N. W. (2001). Bioavailability of Cu, Zn and Mn in contaminated soils and speciation in soil solution. Trace Elements in Soil: Bioavailability, Flux and Transfer. (pp. 77-87) edited by I. K. Iskandar and M. B Kirkham. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision