Professor Michael Bell

Chair in Tropical Agronomy

School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability
Faculty of Science
m.bell4@uq.edu.au
+61 7 54601 140

Overview

Graduated with a B Agric Science (Hons() degree from UQ in 1978, after which I worked as a research agronomist for the West Australian Dept of Agriculture at Kununurra, in the Ord River Irrigation Area, until 1983. During that period I worked primarily with grain legumes (chickpeas and cowpeas) and peanuts, focussing on agronomic management practices (fertilisers, soil amendments, crop protection strategies, irrigation), and enrolled part time in a research Masters on growth physiology of peanuts through UQ. IThe M AgrSc was conferred in 1985.

I took up a position with the Qld Dept Primary Industries at Kingaroy in mid 1983, working on soil fertility management/restoration and continuing to research the physiology of the peanut crop. We ran long term farming systems experiments, and also participated in and ultimately led two successive phases of ACIAR funded research on peanut production in Indonesia.

In 1990 I was granted study leave from DPI to undertake a sponsored PhD program at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. This was completed in 1993 and I returned to Kingaroy with DPI, where I remained based at the Kingaroy Research Station until 2014. During that time our research focussed on soil fertility management (especially P and K), soil physical restoration using ley pastures, soil water dynamics and legume N fixation in rainfed cropping systems, and also in researching the Yield Decline phenomenon in the sugar industry. The latter was a major collaborative, multidisciplinary research project over 15 years, that led to the design and testing of a new sugarcane cropping system. Most research was externally funded, through the Grains, Cotton and Sugar Research and Development Corporations.

In 2010 I was invited to join UQ on secondment at the establishment of the Qld Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), and accepted that role while being based in Kingaroy. In 2014 I was appointed to the Chair in Tropical Agronomy in the School of Agriculture and Food Science (SAFS) at Gatton Campus, relocating to Gatton in 2015, but remain a QAAFI Affiliate. Since that time, I have increasingly focussed on soil fertility management and the development and testing of management strategies to optimize the efficiency of nutrients and water in grains, cotton and sugarcane cropping systems.

I have led an ACIAR project developing more sustainable management systems for sloping lands in NW Vietnam and NE Laos, and have also been involved in advisory bodies associated with the Reef Water Quality Management Plan, and with overseeing research activity in grains and sugarcane industries. Currently I lead national and regional research projects on improving fertiliser N management and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the grains cropping systems in Australia, funded by GRDC and the Federal Goverment Soil Science Challenge initiative.

Research Interests

  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
    Minimizing GHG emissions from fertiliser use, and maximizing soil carbon sequestration in agricultural soils
  • Improving farming systems sustainability
    Improving the understanding of crop sequences, tillage systems and agricultural inputs on the efficiency of use of water and nutrients and the protection of the soil resource in broadacre farming systems
  • Soil fertility management
    Developing sustainable nutrient management strategies to prevent fertility decline, maintain profitability and reduce environmental impacts
  • Maximizing biological N fixation by legume crops and pastures
    Understanding the net N benefits from legumes in cropping systems, and how this can be optimised for different land use systems

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Guelph

Publications

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Grants

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Publications

Book Chapter

  • Janke, Chelsea K., Martinez, Cristina, Dang, Yash and Bell, Michael J. (2024). Banding nitrogen fertilisers and the implications for enhanced efficiency fertiliser technology. Improving nitrogen use efficiency. (pp. 1-1) Cambridge, United Kingdom: Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing. doi: 10.19103/as.2024.0135.12

  • Cheah, Zhong Xiang, O’Hare, Tim, Harper, Stephen and Bell, Michael (2024). Genetic and Agronomic Biofortification of Zinc in Maize and Sweetcorn (Zea mays L.). Phytoremediation and Biofortification: Strategies for Sustainable Environmental and Health Management. (pp. 201-223) New York, NY United States: Apple Academic Press. doi: 10.1201/9781003402084-10

  • Barton, L., Hoyle, F.C., Grace, P.R., Schwenke, G.D., Scanlan, C.A., Armstrong, R.D. and Bell, M.J. (2022). Soil nitrogen supply and N fertilizer losses from Australian dryland grain cropping systems. Advances in agronomy. (pp. 1-52) edited by Donald L. Sparks. Cambridge, MA, United States: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/bs.agron.2022.03.001

  • Bell, Michael J., Mallarino, Antonio P., Volenec, Jeff, Brouder, Sylvie and Franzen, David W. (2021). Considerations for selecting potassium placement methods in soil. Improving potassium recommendations for agricultural crops. (pp. 341-362) edited by T. Scott Murrell, Robert L. Mikkelsen, Gavin Sulewski, Robert Norton and Michael L. Thompson. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-59197-7_12

  • Bell, Michael J., Ransom, Michel D., Thompson, Michael L., Hinsinger, Philippe, Florence, Angela M., Moody, Philip W. and Guppy, Christopher N. (2021). Considering soil potassium pools with dissimilar plant availability. Improving Potassium Recommendations for Agricultural Crops. (pp. 163-190) edited by T. Scott Murrell, Robert L. Mikkelsen, Gavin Sulewski, Robert Norton and Michael L. Thompson. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-59197-7_7

  • Franzen, David W., Goulding, Keith, Mallarino, Antonio P. and Bell, Michael J. (2021). How closely is potassium mass balance related to soil test changes?. Improving potassium recommendations for agricultural crops. (pp. 263-282) edited by T. Scott Murrell, Robert L. Mikkelsen, Gavin Sulewski, Robert Norton and Michael L. Thompson. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-59197-7_10

  • White, Philip J., Bell, Michael J., Djalovic, Ivica, Hinsinger, Philippe and Rengel, Zed (2021). Potassium use efficiency of plants. Improving potassium recommendations for agricultural crops. (pp. 119-145) edited by T. Scott Murrell, Robert L. Mikkelsen, Gavin Sulewski, Robert Norton and Michael L. Thompson. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-59197-7_5

  • Hinsinger, Philippe , Bell, Michael J., Kovar, John L. and White, Philip J. (2021). Rhizosphere processes and root traits determining the acquisition of soil potassium. Improving potassium recommendations for agricultural crops. (pp. 99-117) edited by T. Scott Murrell, Robert L. Mikkelsen, Gavin Sulewski, Robert Norton and Michael L. Thompson. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-59197-7_4

  • Borrell, Andrew, van Oosterom, Erik, George-Jaeggli, Barbara, Rodriguez, Daniel, Eyre, Joe, Jordan, David J., Mace, Emma, Singh, Vijaya, Vadez, Vincent, Bell, Mike, Godwin, Ian, Cruickshank, Alan, Tao, Yongfu and Hammer, Graeme (2021). Sorghum. Crop physiology: case histories for major crops. (pp. 196-221) edited by Victor O. Sadras and Daniel F. Calderini. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-819194-1.00005-0

  • Bell, Michael J., Thompson, Michael L. and Moody, Philip W. (2021). Using soil tests to evaluate plant availability of potassium in soils. Improving Potassium Recommendations for Agricultural Crops. (pp. 191-218) edited by T. Scott Murrell, Robert L. Mikkelsen, Gavin Sulewski, Robert Norton and Michael L. Thompson. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-59197-7_8

  • Angus, John, Bell, Mike, McBeath, Therese and Scanlan, Craig (2019). Nutrient-management challenges and opportunities in conservation agriculture. Australian agriculture in 2020: from conservation to automation. (pp. 221-236) edited by Jim Pratley and John Kirkegaard. Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia: The Australian Society of Agronomy.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed Supervision