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Prof. Andrew Neal


Net Zero and Resilient Farming

North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB
Professional Platforms


Before joining Rothamsted in 2007, Andrew worked at the Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University and The University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. His research is focussed on understanding the integrated behaviour of plant-microbe-soil systems, developing a theory of soil as an extended composite phenotype in the process.

His research places organic carbon at the heart of soil: “Despite carbon’s critical role, the mechanisms underlying carbon dynamics and the link to soil water and nutrient availability are poorly understood,” says Neal. “Society still struggles with the concept of what soil is and how it can be managed effectively because it is such a complex combination of biological, chemical and physical processes”. Combining modern techniques such as shotgun metagenomics and X-ray computed tomography, and borrowing heavily from the extended phenotype concept developed by Dawkins, the emerging processual view of biology and critical systems theory, he is working with colleagues to develop a radically different way of thinking about soil.

Neal is a regular public speaker and his work has been featured on BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science, at New Scientist Live events and podcasts (Agrii Tramlines PodcastCroptec Podcast) as well as speaking at the Parliamentary ERFA committee and featuring in BBSRC's video feature - What happens when you switch farmland from livestock to crops?


He maintains an international portfolio of research, collaborating with colleagues in Australia, Brazil, China, India and Uruguay.


  • 1995 Ph.D., University of Wales.
  • 1990 M.Sc., University of Wales.
  • 1988 B.Sc. (Hons), University of London.

Measures of Esteem

Honorary Professor in the School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham;

Subject Editor – Soil Biology and Biochemistry;

Assistant Editor – European Journal of Soil Science;

Editor - FEMS Microbiology Ecology special edition, "Towards a more sustainable agriculture through managing soil microbiomes";

Scientific Advisory Committee member, Greenback, 2021 - present

Invited Session Chair, Terrestrial Microbiology – Diversity and Redundancy symposium, Australian Society for Microbiology Annual Scientific Meeting, Adelaide, June 2019; invited lectures/keynote speaking

International Fertiliser Society, December 2021;

Groundswell Regenerative Agriculture Show and Conference, June 2021;

Oxford Real Farming Conference, January 2021;

British Grassland Society/Stapeldon Memorial Trust/British Society for Animal Science, June 2020;

RedBio, X Latin American and Caribbean Agricultural Biotechnology Meeting – Montevideo, Uruguay. November 2019;

Soil Systems Symposium - Soils Across Latitudes meeting, San Diego, CA co-sponsored by the soil science societies of America, Mexico and Canada, January 2019;

CAAS Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Beijing, PR China, July 2018;

Systems Biology for Human and Plant Nutrition meeting. ICRISAT Hyderabad, India. March 2018.

PhD examination Alex Williams, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, August 2021

Fiona Seaton, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, August 2020;

Stefanie Tille, Department Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, April 2016.

PhD/MSc supervision William Rickard, University of Nottingham, Ph.D. 2019 - present

Sam Reynolds, University of Nottingham, M.Phil. 2016 – 2019

Aurélie Bacq-Lebreuil, University of Nottingham, PhD. 2015-2018.

Harriet Robson, Reading University, Ph.D. 2015 - 2018

Tristan Eagling, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden. Ph.D. 2010 - 2014

Shakoor Ahmad, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden. Ph.D. 2009 - 2012

Christine M. Fennessey, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA, Ph.D. 2006 - 2011 Justin L. Burns, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta GA, Ph.D. 2006 - 2011

Elizabeth A. Burgess, Department of Microbiology, The University of Georgia, Ph.D. 2003 – 2008

Dana M. Cook, Department of Microbiology, The University of Georgia, Ph.D. 2003 - 2007

Jennifer Kyle, Geology Department, The University of Georgia, M.Sc. 2003 - 2005.