Sunday, October 6, 2019

2019 Region V Soil Judging: Contest Day and Results: Minnesota Takes 3rd Place Overall - Qualifies for 2020 Nationals!

Contest day opened with a beautiful sunrise and a crisp early October morning. The team completed two pits as individuals in the morning before moving to a second site in the afternoon to complete three pits as a team. Contest days are typically long, and this one is no exception. The students were in the field from 8:00AM to 7:30PM, but with cooperative weather and some amazing soils, nobody was complaining!

Contest ready just after sunrise!
Gabe Benitez (Captain) determining soil matrix color while completing his first individual pit
Abbie Clapp (3rd from right) and Matt Lundberg (right) evaluating soil morphology in their first pit as individuals
Minnesota works as a team to complete their first group card in the early afternoon
On Friday morning, the contest results were announced at an awards breakfast by host (from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) Dr. Becky Young and NRCS Soil Scientist Becca Hodges. After much anticipation, there was a lot to celebrate. The University of Minnesota placed 7 individuals in the top 20, 4 individuals in the top 10, and took 3rd place overall in the contest, qualifying for the National Collegiate Soil Judging Contest which will be hosted by Ohio State University in April of 2020! Congratulations also to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1st place) and the University of Missouri (2nd place), who will be joining us at the National contest in the spring.

The 2019 University of Minnesota Region V Soil Judging Team. Front row (L-R): Abbie Clapp, Gabe Benitez (Captain - holding 3rd Place Overall Award), Rowan Doyle (6th Place Individual), Morgan Fabian (8th Place Individual). Back Row (L-R): Nic Jelinski (Coach), Harley Braun (2nd Place Individual), Geneva Nunes, Hannah Anderson (4th Place Individual), Matt Lundberg, Will Effertz, Devon Brodie (Assistant Coach).
A huge thank you to all of the contest hosts, donors, and supporters who made this amazing experience possible!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

2019 Region V Soil Judging: Practice Days in and Around Grand Island, NE

The team has been having a fantastic week, completing 11 practice pits around Grand Island, NE. A huge thank you to our contest hosts and our donors, who have made this amazing educational experience possible. We have seen soils on 3 major landscape components in this portion of Nebraska - Loess Uplands, Dunes, and Floodplains. One practice day has been dedicated to each of these landscape components, as the students have been learning about soil formation, land use, and hydrology!

After all of these amazing soils and landscapes, the Gophers are pumped up and fired up for contest day Thursday morning! We are at one with our soil texture triangles.

A beautiful landscape of dunes (left) and stream terraces (center and right) along the Platte River
An Ustipsamment on a natural levee on a stream terrace near the Platte River
A Haplustept formed in eolian sand on the backslope of  a dune
A floodplain sunset landscape
An Ustipsamment formed in alluvium on a floodplain
An upland depression in the Rainwater Basins near Clay Center, NE
A smectitic Argiustoll formed in loess in an plan depression in the Rainwater Basins
Wednesday Flannel Day for UMN Soil Judging!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

2019 University of Minnesota Regional Soil Judging: A Prelude and Thank You

Kick the tires and light the fires! The 2019 Region V Soil Judging Contest is next week, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A traveling team of nine highly motivated, highly dedicated soil judgers will represent the University of Minnesota in Grand Island, NE from September 28th - October 4th for the 2019 ASA Region V Soil Judging Contest.

First and foremost, we would like to thank the continued generosity of a group of private donors who make our travel possible. Without you, the amazing experience that is Soil Judging would not be available to our students. We are forever grateful for your contributions.

Soil Judging remains the most important experiential opportunity for soils students. Our students will improve their ability to read landscapes, describe soil profiles, and make use and suitability interpretations. And in a much deeper sense, they will learn to be bridge builders, connecting with people through a shared love of the land and the soil resource that crosses all ethnic, cultural and political boundaries. For this reason, they are world changers, representing the heart and soul of the University of Minnesota and the United States Land Grant mission.

Follow our blog for updates on class activities through the contest, and...

Be at one with your textural triangles!


Monday, April 15, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: Results - Minnesota Takes First Place!

The team arrived safely back to Borlaug Hall on Saturday, April 13th around midnight. We are happy to report that the team took first place overall at the NACTA contest! Our very own Autumn Boxum took 3rd place in individual judging. Congratulations to the team for putting in many hours of hard work.
2019 University of Minnesota NACTA Soil Judging Team (L-R): Will Effertz, Devon Brodie (Assistant Coach), Autumn Boxum (3rd Place Individual), Morgan Fabian, Gabe Benitez (Captain), Cole Stenberg, Abbie Clapp, Geneva Nunes, Matt Bluhm, Harley Braun, Nic Jelinski (Coach)
The team post-contest.
But...even after the contest we weren't done! We traveled about 40 minutes south to Dresden, TN to see a beautiful Lamellic Hapludult:

Some folks have previously called this the "bacon soil"
And our final stop was at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana to see the Illinois State Soil (the Drummer) with our host, Dr. Kevin McSweeney!
UMN Soil Judging with the Drummer soil and Dr. Kevin McSweeney on the UIUC campus
A huge thanks to the donors who made this amazing experience a possibility. Look for an epilogue soon!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: Practice Day 1

After completing our pre-contest trip and getting settled in to Murray, the team was chomping at the bit to get out and see some Kentucky soils! We are in the heart of fragipan country in this part of Kentucky, and the soils did not disappoint. We saw two fantastic fragipans (one in a Aqualf and one in a better-drained Udalf) at the Murray State West Farm and an additional soil without a fragipan at the Brannon farm just over the border in Tennessee. We are excited for the remaining practice pits and looking forward to continued exposure to new soils and landscapes!

UMN Soil Judging with an early start to the day on a beautiful Kentucky morning (Murray State West Farm)
A Udalf formed in loess on the Murray State West Farm
A beautiful fragipan!

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: Arrival in Murray!

The team arrived safely in Murray on Sunday night April 7th. We spent much of Monday getting organized, cleaning ourselves up, and going grocery shopping for the week ahead. We had the University of Idaho Soil Judging team (coached by Allison Harvey, current UofIdaho M.S. student and former UMN soil judger!) over for a pasta dinner. Idaho and Minnesota students bonded over our long travels and enjoyed each other's company so much that we are planning to get together again on Thursday evening!
UMN Soil Judging and University of Idaho Soil Judging sharing a meal and great conversations about soils!

Monday, April 8, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: The Road to Murray - Day 3 - TN Ridge and Valley Ultisols

The team made a stop at the UT-Knoxville East Tennessee Research and Education Center (ETREC) on Sunday - special thanks to Andrew Sherfy and Manny Sabbagh (future UMN Ph.D. student!) - for facilitating our visit. We described an Ultisol formed in shale residuum in the uplands south of Knoxville, and looked at a weakly developed soil the floodplain of the Tennessee River.

Students describing an upland Ultisol of the Tennessee Ridge and Valley province. In the background in the blue jacket is our host (and future UMN SWAC Ph.D. student) Manny Sabbagh.
A Typic Hapludult formed in shale residuum on a backslope.
A Typic Udorthent formed in alluvial sediments on a floodplain of the Tennessee River