Saturday, September 21, 2013

2013 Region V Soil Judging - Official Results and Trip Home

We attended the breakfast banquet at Missouri State's Darr Agricultural Center on Friday morning to break bread and listen to the official contest results. Erik Schilling took 5th overall in the individual competition, correctly judging 2 lithologic discontinuities in a Paleudalf on a shoulder. We had a strong grouping of individuals just outside of the top 10 - Anna Hyytinen took 11th place followed closely by Andrew Krinke in 13th and just behind them Jeff Tanaka in 16th. A terrific block of scores for these individuals which boosted our overall score.

We were very competitive on team pits #2 and #3, but misjudged 2 horizons on team pit #1. In the end, these two horizons allowed Iowa State to edge us out for 3rd place and the final spot at the National competition by 10 points overall (2192 to 2182). It was difficult to be so close - however, we walked away with our heads held high - a razor's edge between us and a guaranteed spot at Nationals. 4th place overall, handily beating Mizzou, Nebraska and South Dakota State, all terrific teams.

Erik Schilling walked away with this year's hardware - a trophy for his 5th place showing, and as a team we are currently on the ticket as the alternates for Region V in the National competition.

We left Springfield and arrived safely in Minneapolis just in time for rush hour on Friday evening - an experience that we will all look back on fondly. A special thanks to this year's team for their unwavering support of a rookie coach - your respect and dedication is appreciated more than you at one!


Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 Region V Soil Judging - Contest Day

Today was contest day - two individual pits and three team pits. The team competition is everybody's favorite part of the contest and we owe that to the legacy of Dr. Terry Cooper, who originated and advocated for the team judging format - originally adopted in Region V and subsequently adopted at the national level. Thanks Terry!

The individual pits were similar to what the team had seen all week here in southwestern Missouri, but the team pits were certainly curve balls. The team pits included lithic/paralithic contacts that had not been previously described as well as an umbric epipedon. Although we won't find out how we fared individually, as a team, or overall until the final breakfast and awards banquet tomorrow morning, the team certainly proved their ability to work independently and as a group - recognizing both the umbric horizon and a lithic/paralithic contact. As was said today - "we spend all week trying to make them [the students] think like the official the end we just have to help the students think independently and hope they make the best decisions when they see something they've never seen before". Regardless of the outcome and official results tomorrow, this year's team has shown their ability to think independently - the most important part of this entire experience.

Working on descriptions at individual pit #2 (Anna Hyytinen, Erik Schilling, Jeff Tanaka)

Wyatt Behrends preparing to nail his clay percentages at individual pit #1.

Texturing at individual pit #1 (Heather Ryan, Andrew Krinke)

Contestants and coaches at individual pit #1 on an upper landscape position.

Lunch and shade before the team judging event (Jeff Tanaka, Erik Schilling, Andrew Krinke, Heather Ryan, Anna Hyytinen, Wyatt Behrends)

Judging team pit #3 (Anna Hyytinen, Heather Ryan, Erik Schilling, Andrew Krinke, Jeff Tanaka, Wyatt Behrends)

Post-competition team photo (Wyatt Behrends, Jeff Tanaka, Anna Hyytinen, Deer, Coach: Nic Jelinski, Deer, Co-Captain: Erik Schilling, Co-Captain: Andrew Krinke, Heather Ryan).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

2013 Region V Soil Judging - Practice Pits Day 3

Today was our final day of practice pits. We judged 5 pits at Missouri State's Southwest Research and Outreach Center. These soils were Paleudalfs, Fragiudalfs and an Argiudoll formed in alluvial sediments. On our final team practice pit, the group judged a Paleudalf formed in colluvium and residuum, scoring an impressive 334 out of 345 possible points! The group is nailing their clay percentages on these residual soils within 2% - hopefully we'll see more soils like this on competition day. What is very clear is that in addition to be very proficient individual judgers, our team works well as a group, allowing all opinions to be heard and making the best decision possible.

We had to bid farewell to our Assistant Coach An-Min Wu today so we took a group picture in the morning to preserve her contribution to this year's competition preparation. An-Min is headed back to Minneapolis via a 13 hour bus ride tonight. Her knowledge and background allowed us to exceed our expectations for developing this year's team. Thanks An-Min!

Group Photo (L-R: Coach - Nic Jelinski, Asst. Coach - An-Min Wu, Co-Capt. - Erik Schilling, Heather Ryan, Anna Hyytinen, Wyatt Behrends, Co-Capt. - Andrew Krinke, Jeff Tanaka)

Individual judging of a Fragiudalf on a broad ridge/summit of a Fragipan landscape, Missouri State Southwest Research and Outreach Center).

Fragiudalf formed in loess and residuum (Soil).

Looking for redoximorphic features in a Paleudalf (Jeff Tanaka, Andrew Krinke, Wyatt Behrends, Heather Ryan)

2013 Region V Soil Judging - Practice Pits Day 2

For day 2 of our practice pits we judged 6 pits as pairs, individuals, and as a team. Two pits were on Missouri State's Darr Agricultural Center grounds and 4 others were on the Shealy property north of Springfield. The pits on the Darr Agricultural Center were both Mollisols with undescribed overburden, a break from the Alfisols and Ultisols that we had seen on the first day. At the Shealy property, we saw pits with residuum at depth and loess or colluvial caps. We had to get used to digging between all of the coarse fragments (up to 80% in some horizons) for the 2.5YR and 10R clay residual material. By the end of the day, everyone was proficient at scraping their knives along the surfaces of coarse fragments to get just enough soil to texture and color - a tedious but important task in this region.

Looking for horizons in a Paleudoll formed in loess (Heather Ryan)

Discussion regarding how to distinguish between the Peoria Loess and Loveland Loess in order to correctly judge discontinuities (Anna Hyytinen, Wyatt Behrends, Erik Schilling, Nic Jelinski, Heather Ryan, Andrew Krinke, Jeff Tanaka)

Working as a cohesive team at the Shealy Farm (An-Min Wu (L), Andrew Krinke, Wyatt Behrends, Anna Hyytinen, Heather Ryan, Erik Schilling) 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 Region V Soil Judging - Practice Pits Day 1

Today we went to the Henderson property about 40 miles north of Springfield and just outside of Louisburg, MO. We were able to get in 5 practice pits in very diverse soils. While all of the soils were Alfisols, we saw gleyed horizons, buried A horizons and fragipans. Our team worked well in groups of 3, pairs, and when judging as a group - our understanding of local landscapes and local description conventions has significantly improved.

First Practice Pit of the competition - a Paleudalf in the rain (Erik Schilling, Wyatt Behrends, Heather Ryan and Andrew Krinke)

Looking for redox features in a Paleudalf on a backslope (An-Min Wu)

"S" Horizon in a pasture (Cattle)

Judging a Fragiudalf on a broad interfluve with loess, pedisediment and residual parent materials (Heather Ryan, Andrew Krinke, Wyatt Behrends, Anna Hyytinen, An-Min Wu)

A loamy-skeletal Hapludalf in a floodplain - discussing the origin of the buried A horizon and whether or not redoximorphic features are present (Andrew Krinke, Erik Schilling, Anna Hyytinen, Wyatt Behrends, Jeff Tanaka)

Monday, September 16, 2013

2013 Region V Soil Judging Competition - Settling into Springfield...

We arrived safely in Springfield, MO around 4pm. We spent the afternoon talking about the competition scoring sheets and recalibrating ourselves to sand fractions (particularly the fine and very fine side of things) as we anticipate these will be critical in loess/eolian caps over residuum in southwest Missouri. We made a quick stop at the grocery store and then on to Missouri State's Darr Agricultural Center for our initial meeting with the other teams and coaches.

Seven teams will be competing in the Region V competition this year. We received our local briefing from John Preston of the Springfield NRCS office. He emphasized residual soils, argillic horizons, and fragipans - two of which are steep learning curves for Minnesotans. Luckily, we spent some time in our pre-trip meetings talking about and looking at samples of both and think we have a good foundation to build on. Our team is short two members who could not participate due to last-minute conflicts, but we are seven strong and ready to get to work.

We have 5 practice pits tomorrow and hope to get a lot of the initial local learning curve out of the way. We are at one with our textural triangles...

Discussing contest scoring sheets and strategies (Andrew Krinke, Wyatt Behrends and Nic Jelinski)

Listening to John Preston (USDA-NRCS) at the Darr Agricultural Center