The Water Resiliency Initiative was established in 2020 by the Agricultural Water Management Group in the NCSU Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering to address the global challenges facing agricultural producers and rural communities’ rival demand for that precious, irreplaceable substance, known as water. Strategically located in the agriculturally rich Blacklands region of North Carolina’s lower coastal plain, the Water Resiliency Initiative consists of two Technology Validation Field Sites, one located at the NCDA Tidewater Research Station near Plymouth, N.C., and the other near Bath, N.C., on private land. Both sites are dedicated to evaluating promising new technologies and agronomic strategies aimed at maximizing water productivity, sustainability, and environmental quality. Through these efforts we hope to gain insight into the mechanisms driving yield and components of yield, and stress resilience favorable for efficient, profitable crop production in areas of eastern North Carolina and similar environments, worldwide. Identifying crop genotypes that respond positively to different environments or are suitable for specific soil and drainage conditions is especially critical with rising input costs. To this end, we are partnering with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, commodity groups, agribusiness, and technology developers with the aim of matching crop genetics, biology, and fertility, to site-specific environments.

In addition to stress testing, the Water Resiliency Team also conducts soil and groundwater investigations to evaluate the agricultural and environmental impacts of salinity, an imminent threat to coastal communities affected by climate change. We are also equipped to conduct RTK-assisted surveys for precision land leveling to optimize surface drainage and build controlled drainage capacity so that producers can increase the return on their investments by making informed planting decisions.

  • The Blackland Soils of North Carolina. -J.P. Lilley. The Blacklands are areas of organic and mineral-organic soils in the lower coastal plain of eastern North Carolina that are agriculturally important. It’s no exaggeration to say the Blacklands are North Carolina’s “breadbasket”. But these poorly to very poorly drained soils demand special care to stay productive. This technical bulletin, first published in 1981, remains one of the key references on the genesis, characteristics, and management of blackland soils. (pdf)