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Alex Woodley

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences

Assistant Professor

4128 Plant Sciences Building


Alex Woodley’s research program is focused on soil productivity and profitability in sustainable and organic cropping systems. Research initiatives include linking soil health indicators to productive agroecosystems, mitigation of soil greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon sequestration and nutrient management of fertilizers, organic amendments and cover crops.


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

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

Date: 02/08/22 - 1/20/25
Amount: $1,061,790.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA 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: 01/01/23 - 12/31/24
Amount: $300,000.00
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: 09/01/19 - 8/31/24
Amount: $9,994,404.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA 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: 04/01/20 - 3/31/24
Amount: $359,524.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA 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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