Monday, October 2, 2017

2017 ASA Regionals, Redfield, SD - Epilogue

The University of Minnesota Soil Judging team is returning to normal after an immersive and successful week of investigating soils in Spink County, SD. Our first order of business is to once again express a sincere thank you to our donors, without whose generosity this educational experience would not have been possible!

Over the course of the week, our students "met" soils with nests of gypsum, high exchangeable sodium, natric horizons, and albic horizons. The team worked extensively to fit the soils they saw into a broader landscape context, and to better understand and apply the knowledge they had gained.

The finalized UMN soil-landscape synthesis for the contest and practice pits in Spink County, SD
One excellent example of this contextual work was a discussion we had on Wednesday at a practice pit at the edge of a slight depression in an alfalfa field. I asked our students to hypothesize the reasons for an area of poor alfalfa growth, based on soils knowledge gained over the course of the week. The winning hypothesis was a poorly permeable natric horizon which perched water and caused winter kill on the alfalfa - after conferring with the contest organizers, this turned out to be true.

This is just one example of the many ways in which the unique knowledge gained through Soil Judging can be translated into technical and professional skills which set Soil Judgers apart as they enter the workforce. See our previous post on "6 Reasons to Hire a Soil Judger" for even more skills that our Judgers gain through their experiences.

This was a memorable and educational trip for all involved. Soil Judging is one of the most valuable opportunities that our students participate in - it presents an opportunity to learn fieldcraft, observational and synthetic skills, and the relationship between the soil resource and local land use and livelihoods. Thus, Soil Judgers are students of the land and its people, and represent a core component of the land grant mission.

A Perspective from the Coach: This was one of the most memorable Soil Judging trips that I have been involved in. A huge thank you to our students for their dedication, focus, and attitudes - I am filled with gratitude for knowing each of you. A huge thank you to the organizers and official judges for their hard work in selecting unique sites and putting on an extremely well organized contest. Finally, a huge thank you to our supporters and donors - you provide the foundation upon which our students have the opportunity to participate in these experiences.

2017 University of Minnesota Soil Judging Team, Redfield, SD. Top row (L-R): Nic Jelinski (Coach), Stefan Swenson (Captain), Gabe Benitez, Devon Brodie, Julia Otten, Autumn Boxum, Cassie Tieman (10th place individual). Bottom row (L-R): Sara Bauer (3rd place individual), Tessa Belo, Kathleen Hobert, Ka Yang, Paige Adams.
Check back in the spring for updates on our team's travel to the 2018 NACTA contest in Norfolk, NE. Until then, be at one with your texture triangles!