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Alex Woodley

Assoc Professor

Williams Hall NA


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Date: 02/01/23 - 1/31/26
Amount: $56,875.00
Funding Agencies: NC Soybean Producers Association, Inc.

Producers are pushing the boundaries of traditional management strategies to achieve their high-yielding soybean goals. Best management practices help some soybean yields of NC to exceed 70bu/A while the historical statewide average yield of soybean mark 35 bu/A level. However, intensive agricultural practices may not provide long-term sustainability in increasing soybean yield levels. Achieving high yields and improving soil properties may differ substantially for each region of NC and require excellent field conditions and hence site-specific and climate-smart management strategies. Especially increasing need for agricultural products, and expensive and limited fertilizer inputs due to global issues require improvements in currently available management strategies like cover cropping and reduced or no tillage. Recently, management practices like those provide minimum disturbance, maximum soil coverage, economically profitable carbon farming, and restore or maintain soil health are critical. This research aims to develop site-specific cover crop and tillage practices where we can get the most benefit from interactions between cover crop and tillage applications to provide high economical return and enhanced soil health conditions. We will conduct plant and soil analysis including soil physical properties, microbial activities, N fixation, soybean yield, and biomass. We will also conduct an economic analysis and carbon credit evaluations. To conduct this project, we will hire a graduate student for 3 years co-sponsored with this grant and startup from department support by Crop and Soil Sciences Department. We are also requesting financial support for field supplies, travel costs, and soil and plant analysis associated with the project.

Date: 02/01/22 - 1/31/26
Amount: $649,912.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

We will investigate the carryover effects of P fertilization on loblolly pine plantations and the effects on the soil microbial community.

Date: 01/01/23 - 12/31/25
Amount: $376,406.00
Funding Agencies: BASF Corporation

(Project is in support of PSI) Greenhouse trials measuring GHG emissions and soil health parameters in corn using a variety of biological products. In addition, a GHG column experiment measuring high frequency GHG emissions.

Date: 09/01/20 - 8/31/25
Amount: $473,871.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

The proposed project will use a chronosequence technique to evaluate changes in soil carbon storage and soil health indicators that occur over a 20 yr period from transition from conventional to organic management. Soil samples will be taken from on-farm sites that have been in organic management for a range of time and ensure and event distribution from year 0 to year 20. Soils from nearby abandoned or re-forested sites will be used as the regions maximum potential carbon accrual, while sites in year 0 or 1 of transition will be the theoretical starting point for carbon stock buildup. In addition to the on-farm trials, two intensive field experiments will be established at research stations on the coastal plains. These experiments will focus on carbon stock accrual within the first 3 years of transition from conventional to organic. Treatments will fall along a spectrum on management intensity, ranging from high intensity carbon building with organic amendments to business as usual production systems. This complementary study will allow inferences to be made around if active soil carbon building during transition can push the system further in the chronoseqenece and derive the potential benefits of increased soil health.

Date: 02/01/21 - 2/01/25
Amount: $10,741.00
Funding Agencies: Corn Growers Association of NC, Inc.

New injection bars available through Zoske, Bazooka-Farmstar, and Dietrich allow for manure injection into standing corn. Initial results out of Ohio and Minnesota indicate corn can withstand injection below the V5 growth stage without injury. The potential to utilize in-season injection could drastically increase the application window of swine sludge in a corn rotation, allowing the grower/applicator to get in the field when field conditions are optimum, especially in rainy springs such as we saw in 2020. However, there is little information on this injection system in the sandy soils of the Coastal Plain. Therefore, we propose small scale field testing to identify the impact of swine sludge injection on corn yield and quality.

Date: 02/08/22 - 1/20/25
Amount: $1,061,790.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

On-farm trials will be used to measure mitigation of nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions from nitrogen fertilization of corn with and without the use of a urease and nitrification inhibitor. Control plots receiving zero N will be used to examine inherent soil health in the system and supply power relative to corn yields.

Date: 09/01/19 - 8/31/24
Amount: $1,943,971.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Weed management was identified as a high priority of organic sweetpotato producers who lack chemical control options available to conventional producers. This project will examine the effectiveness of multiple weed management techniques including 1) the use of advanced sweetpotato lines and cultivars with bunching shoot architecture to outcompete weeds for light resources and allow for more efficient use of between-row cultivation, 2) modified planting density to reduce the critical period for weed removal, 3) identification of weed suppressive (allelopathic) lines that can function in a production environment, and 4) utilization of fall-planted cover crops and reduced tillage transplanting operations to reduce the dependence on cultivation. Recognizing that these techniques may have non-target effects, this project will also investigate the insect pest pressure and plant disease occurrences in the test plots. Research-based findings will be shared with stakeholders and the greater scientific community via field days, production meetings, expos, conferences, peer-reviewed journal publications, Extension publications/fact sheets/bulletins, and electronic newsletters, webpages, and social media. Throughout the proposed project, investigators will remain engaged with the US Sweetpotato Stakeholder Advisory Panel to ensure the project remains aligned with industry goals and that meaningful results are effectively communicated to stakeholders nation-wide. Identifying best practices for weed management, in an integrated pest management context, will facilitate the development and improvement of organic sweetpotato production, in line with Goal 1 of the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative.

Date: 09/01/19 - 8/31/24
Amount: $9,994,404.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Cover crops are capable of mitigating many of the destabilizing factors influencing food and water security including climate change, pesticide resistance, depleted soils, competition among users for water, and decoupled nutrient cycles. Despite the myriad potential landscape-level benefits, cover crop adoption rates remain low. Cover crop use is a knowledge-intensive activity; farmers repeatedly cite management complexity and the lack of site- and system-specific information as barriers to adoption. This is further complicated by inconsistent management recommendations, and at times misinformation, resulting from a lack of coordination, communication, and awareness. Complex interactions in food production among intrinsic factors (climate and soil), management, and genetics exacerbate the issue. Social and political forces also add complexity via regulation and market forces. While there has been considerable research devoted to cover crops, there has been a failure to link impacts of climate, soil, genetics, and management decisions on cover crop performance. There is also a lack of transdisciplinarity and integration in research, education, and extension activities. We propose a transformation of US cropping systems through an information ecology to integrate cover crops and precision agriculture. An information ecology for precision sustainable agriculture would include, at minimum, open source software to reduce the cognitive overload of cover crop use by farmers; low cost hardware to crowdsource farm-scale data to inform cover crop research; and a knowledge commons for data sharing among transdisciplinary and cross-sector teams. An information ecology therefore has the potential to support long-term sustainability of US agricultural systems through the integration of cover crop research and practice.

Date: 01/01/23 - 5/01/24
Amount: $75,000.00
Funding Agencies: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

This project will conduct collaborative field trials to address farmer-specified agronomic challenges to producing fiber hemp in North Carolina.

Date: 04/01/20 - 3/31/24
Amount: $359,524.00
Funding Agencies: USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Global climate change, food security challenges, environmental concerns, and global food crises are complex food system challenges that require innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to agricultural research and education. Increasing diversity creates a more productive and creative workforce with complex problem solving skills. Lack of focused recruitment and training programs in STEM has led to many groups being under-represented. Engaging diverse and multicultural undergraduates in hands-on, cutting-edge agriculture and food systems research while providing structured professional development training will increase student interest and ability to build careers in agriculture and food systems. Our overall project goal is to develop a summer-based agroecology research and experiential training program that addresses the challenges of sustainable agriculture production and incorporates professional career development and structured mentorship. We will recruit 30 students, 10 students per year for 3 years with at least 50% women and at least 40% from traditionally underrepresented groups, including underrepresented ethnicities, first generation college students, and economically disadvantaged groups, to participate in the 10-week paid summer training program. Specific program elements of the summer training program include: Hands-on research experience and training in four core themes that align with AFRI priority areas including: Sustainable crop production and technology; Soil health; Natural resources and the environment; and Food system and socio-economic impacts Integrated extension training through participation in relevant field days and workshops, as well as the development of resource materials for Cooperative Extension Individualized professional skills development, including writing, understanding agriculture career pathways, leadership training, diversity, equity and inclusion competencies and development of an e-portfolio Structured mentorship and network opportunities with faculty, graduate students and agricultural professionals The intellectual merit of this REEU, Diverse Agroecology and Sustainability Scholars Training Program, lies in developing a new and critically needed pipeline for the next generation of diverse sustainable agriculture professionals and researchers equipped to address our complex food and agriculture challenges. With the long-standing collaborative working team of multidisciplinary researchers and educators in agroecology and robust stakeholder partnerships within the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), Cooperative Extension and various organizations associated with North Carolina State University (NC State), our project team has the experience and resources to ensure a quick start and successful implementation of the program. Assessment of participant knowledge, skills, and abilities will take place before, during, and after the research appointments to evaluate the level of achievement of program objectives and student learning outcomes.

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