Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Region V Collegiate Soil Judging Contest: Day 1

Today is the first day in the practice pits. We received our pit assignments yesterday evening. We were assigned 3 pits plus a bonus pit on the UMN North Central Research and Outreach Center beef cattle unit just south of Grand Rapids.

Beautiful weather greeted us on our first day in the field. The temps were nearly perfect, the skies were clear and bright, and the pits were relatively dry. Nic Jelinski provided us with 4 practice pits on the grounds of the NCROC beef cattle unit. A mix of parent materials was present on site, including Des Moines lobe glacial till, outwash, loess, glaciolacustrine sediments, and colluvium/local alluvium.

Our first pit, a glossudalf, had loess over outwash over glacial till and also featured a glossic horizon, a classic northern forest soil.

 Photo 1: Sondra Larson, Teng Vang (in shadow), Andrea Williams, and Nick Vetsch marking horizons and collecting samples in the pits.

Photo 2: Captain Rusty Zimmerman intently coloring samples.

The second soil was located downslope from the first and it also featured three parent materials, with colluvium/local alluvium over outwash over glacial till. The horizonation was also complex, with a proto-spodic horizon over a glossic horizon over an argillic. Whew!

Photo 3: Nick Vetsch (r) and Teng Vang (l) working through the complex horizonation of Pit 2 while Luke Ratgen watches from above.

The third soil, which was located on the rim of a cattail marsh, had only a single parent material, silty glaciolacustrine sediments, and the least complex horizonation of the soils present on site.
Photo 4. The profile at Pit 3. 

Photo 5. Assistant Coach Erik Schilling (r) reads out the official description. From left to right, Andrea Williams, Leslee Jackson, Sondra Larson, Luke Ratgen, Nick Vetsch, Rusty Zimmerman, Teng Vang, and Amanda Wolff check their scoresheets. 

The last soil was on a high summit which might lead one to think it was well-drained and a fairly simple profile - not true! The horizons were relatively clear, but a variety of different types of redoximorphic features were present throughout the 180cm of the profile. A very interesting pit.

Tomorrow we head to the Chippewa National Forest to look at some forested sites.

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