Robert Evans

Unpaid Emeritus

Professional Engineer
  • 919-618-4433
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Dr. Robert O. Evans, P. E. is internationally recognized for his contributions to drainage, drainage water management, stream and wetland restoration, riparian buffers, and nonpoint source pollution control. While best known for a truly outstanding extension program, he also made significant and substantial contributions in research, graduate teaching, extension administration, and leadership in local and national committees, professional societies, study commissions and task forces, and from 2006 to 2014, as Head of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NCSU. Dr. Evans has excelled in every role with his contributions making a real difference to agricultural production and profits on drained soils, to water quality, the environment, his students’ academic and professional careers and society at large.

From his early research, Dr. Evans determined crop response to shallow water tables and developed algorithms for predicting yields losses in terms of water table depths and durations. His results were incorporated into DRAINMOD. Dr. Evans is best known for his contributions to applied research, extension and public adoption of drainage water management, specifically controlled drainage (CD). His work expanded research sites in North Carolina and helped environmental regulators and farmers better understand the practice and its application of drained cropland. Working with NC Cooperative Extension, USDA-NRCS and ARS, he set up a series of field demonstration and research sites, the results from which convinced regulators that CD would work and resulted in it being recognized as a Best Management Practice to improve drainage water quality with associated cost sharing provided by the State of North Carolina. It is now a major component of the ADMS Task Force with application to the Midwestern US.

Dr. Evans’ service includes past chair of the 1998 National Drainage Symposium, past chair of the Drainage Council for the ASCE Division of Irrigation and Drainage and past chair of the ASABE Department Heads. As member of the International Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, he has participated in congresses in South America, The Netherlands, China and Finland. Dr. Evans has collaborated with water management researchers in Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and United Kingdom, served as instructor at Drainage Schools in Ohio and Illinois, co-instructed DRAINMOD courses in six states, and served on teams to review water management programs in the Southeast region and nationally. Throughout his career, Dr. Evans has demonstrated a strong commitment of service to the organizations he represents.


Ph.D. 1991

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

NC State University

M.S. 1981

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

NC State University

B.S. 1976

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

NC State University

Research Description

Irrigation • drainage • water table management • water quality

Honors and Awards

  • International Drainage Hall of Fame, 2014
  • ASCE Royce J. Tipton Award, 2013
  • ASABE Hancor Soil and Water Engineering Award, 2009
  • FELLOW, American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2005
  • North Carolina Irrigation Award, 2003
  • "Professional Achievement in Water Quality", N.C. Soil and Water Conservation Society, 1995
  • ASAE "Extension Educational Aids Blue Ribbons", 1997
  • USDA "Superior Service Award" Water Table Management Group, 1990
  • N. C. Irrigation "Public Service Award", 1990
  • R.J. Reynolds "Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award", 1983


Riparian buffer located in an upland landscape position does not enhance nitrate-nitrogen removal
Johnson, S. R., Burchell, M. R., II, Evans, R. O., Osmond, D. L., & Gilliam, J. W. (2013), Ecological Engineering, 52, 252–261.
The impact of manipulating surface topography on the hydrologic restoration of a forested coastal wetland
Jarzemsky, R. D., Burchell, M. R., II, & Evans, R. O. (2013), ECOLOGICAL ENGINEERING, 58, 35–43.
Drainage water management
Skaggs, R. W., Fausey, N. R., & Evans, R. O. (2012), JOURNAL OF SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION, Vol. 67, pp. 167A–172A.
Factors affecting uniformity of irrigation-type manure application systems
Liu, Z., Grabow, G. L., Huffman, R. L., Osborne, J., & Evans, R. O. (2012), Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 28(1), 43–56.
SDI Dripline Spacing Effect on Corn and Soybean Yield in a Piedmont Clay Soil
Grabow, G. L., Huffman, R. L., & Evans, R. O. (2011), JOURNAL OF IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE ENGINEERING, 137(1), 27–36.
Effect of controlled drainage on water and nitrogen balances in drained lands
Skaggs, R. W., Youssef, M. A., Gilliam, J. W., & Evans, R. O. (2010), Transactions of the ASABE, 53(6), 1843–1850.
Nutrient removal capability of a constructed wetland receiving groundwater contaminated by swine lagoon seepage
Hathaway, J. M., Cook, M. J., & Evans, R. O. (2010), Transactions of the ASABE, 53(3), 741–749.
Seepage erosion in layered stream bank material
Lindow, N., Fox, G. A., & Evans, R. O. (2009), EARTH SURFACE PROCESSES AND LANDFORMS, 34(12), 1693–1701.
The impact of swine lagoon seepage on shallow groundwater quality: Groundwater remediation through lagoon closure and pumping
Cook, M. J., Hathaway, J. M., & Evans, R. O. (2008), Transactions of the ASABE, 51(3), 891–900.
Agricultural drainage management, quality and disposal issues in North America
Madramootoo, C. A., Johnston, W. R., Ayars, J. E., Evans, R. O., & Fausey, N. R. (2007), IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE, 56, S35–S45.

View all publications via NC State Libraries


Efficacy of linear wetlands to treat agricultural drainage water in the Little River watershed
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(3/01/16 - 12/31/18)
In-stream wetlands as part of the Little River watershed restoration project
NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund(1/01/16 - 6/30/19)
Giant Reed Response to Nitrogen Fertilization
NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services(10/01/14 - 9/30/18)
Comprehensive Wetland Monitoring Network and Spatial Database for North Carolina’s Coastal Plain and Piedmont Regions
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(10/01/14 - 9/30/20)
Development, Evaluation, and Demonstration of Simple Tools For Nitrogen Credit Trading System Involving Drainage Water Management
US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)(9/21/12 - 6/30/15)
Design and Implementation of an Innovative Integrated Water management system in Hyde County, NC: Phase I
NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund(2/01/11 - 12/31/20)
Hydrologic Impacts of Rerouting Pumped Agricultural Drainage Water Through a Historical and Restored Wetland System as Part of a Innovative Integrated Water Management System in Hyde County, NC
NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund(9/15/08 - 7/31/12)
Task Order - Peanut Quality Research
US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)(2/16/08 - 9/30/08)
Task order 58-6645-7-615
US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)(2/16/07 - 2/15/08)
Task Order 58-6645-7-606
US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)(10/01/06 - 2/15/07)