Rodrigo Werle New WCREC Cropping Systems Specialist
Rodrigo Werle starts today as the new cropping systems specialist at the UNL West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte. An assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Werle will have a split appointment between research (50%) and extension (50%). He replaces Greg Kruger, who is the new weed science and application technology specialist.
Education and Training
Werle was born in a small farming community of Dutch immigrants in the state of São Paulo in southeastern Brazil. His early passion for agriculture led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the College of Agricultural Sciences, São Paulo State University. In 2009, before graduation, he had an internship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln working in weed science with Mark Bernards, weed science specialist. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he returned to UNL where he received his master’s degree in agronomy in 2012. Werle has completed his doctoral studies and will receive his PhD in May. His advisor is John Lindquist, professor and plant ecologist in the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture.
As a graduate student, Werle’s interests were in weed biology, ecology, and management in agroecosystems. While pursuing his M.S., he studied the emergence patterns and overwintering survival of several winter annual weed species, and the ability of one common winter annual weed to serve as an alternative host to soybean cyst nematode, an important pathogen of soybeans in Nebraska and much of the U.S. As a doctoral student, he evaluated the distribution and mechanism of acetolactate synthase (ALS) herbicide resistance in shattercane and johnsongrass populations in Nebraska and Kansas, and developed a simulation model to assess management options to mitigate the risk of ALS resistance evolution in shattercane in potential ALS-tolerant sorghum (Inzen technology, DuPont) production areas of the Great Plains. The results of his work assisted DuPont develop Best Management Practices for the Inzen technology, which is expected to become commercially available in 2017.
Rodrigo has authored or co-authored 11 peer reviewed journal articles and several extension publications and scientific abstracts. One of his M.S. manuscripts was awarded the 2014 Outstanding Paper in Weed Technology by the Weed Science Society of America. He received the North Central Weed Science Society Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 2013 and the Weed Science Society of America Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 2016. Rodrigo was an active member of UNL’s Weed Science program, involved in teaching and several extension activities, and has served as a coach for the UNL Weeds Team.
Research and Extension Goals
West central Nebraska is known for its semi-arid climate, moderate to low soil organic matter and high pH, along with a diversity of irrigated and dryland cropping systems (corn, soybean, sorghum, and wheat). Water and nutrient availability play a major role in the likelihood of crop success in western Nebraska, and wise use and timely delivery of these important resources are crucial in this region. Thus, conducting long-term research on productive, profitable, and sustainable crop rotation schemes in the presence and absence of irrigation in western Nebraska will be the main focus of his program. Werle plans to conduct research focused on management options to maximize crop water use and nutrient use efficiencies, minimize irrigation needs, and explore the benefits associated with reduced- and no-tillage, and crop residue conservation. The occurrence of glyphosate-resistant weeds pose a major threat to no-till production in Nebraska; thus, weed management across different cropping systems is one of his research interests. He also intends to explore the benefits of cover crops and alternative crops, such as field peas, in western Nebraska. The ultimate goal of his program is to demonstrate how these practices together could lead to more sustainable and resilient cropping systems where water is a major limiting factor.
As an extension specialist, he plans to serve his clientele via phone, office visits, and formal summer field days and winter trainings. He will be collaborating with specialists and extension educators from multiple disciplines within and outside the UNL system to ensure his research is current and relevant. Training crop scouts and agronomists on proper pest identification, pesticide selection and application, nutrient deficiencies and management in collaboration with WCREC colleagues also will be a focus.
Werle is excited to continue the legacy started by Bob Klein, extension western Nebraska cropping specialist, to establish an internationally recognized program to develop practices to increase profitability, productivity, and sustainability of dryland and irrigated cropping systems with limited water in west central Nebraska. He is eager to collaborate with the diverse and talented group of scientists and educators at the WCREC and across the UNL system.
Rodrigo and his young family moved to North Platte at the end of February and are enjoying the community and lifestyle in western Nebraska.