Scientists look for crops that help amid saltwater intrusion
Cotton, for example, can make money where wheat, corn and other vegetables won’t grow, according to farmers I’ve spoken to in Hyde County, right on the Pamlico Sound. Now a new study from North Carolina State University finds that some soybean varieties could work, too. Andrea Gibbs, the agricultural extension agent in Hyde County, recently joined colleagues at North Carolina State University in a study to figure out which soybean varieties are most salt tolerant, which she refers to as “salt excluders.” She remembers hearing about the problem when she arrived in Hyde County nine years ago. “I would have farmers call, and there would be an area in the field that they had lost, you know, had a decrease in production. And they were pretty sure that it was saltwater intrusion. But I would go and take soil samples and kind of assess their levels,” Gibbs said.