Sunday, September 23, 2018

2018 Region V Soil Judging Contest: Contest Day and Results

On a hot but beautiful Kansas September day, the University of Minnesota Soil Judging Team took 1st place in Group Judging for the 2nd time in 3 years! That achievement is a testament to the strong work ethic, mutual respect, communication and teamwork of our students. This is the 5th time in the 28 year history of Group Judging in Region V that UMN has placed first in group judging. The recent group judging success that our team has is an honor to the legacy of Dr. Terry Cooper, who strongly advocated for group judging in Region V - which was subsequently adopted at the National level.

2018 University of Minnesota Soil Judging Team (1st Place Group Judging): (L-R) Nic Jelinski (Coach), Morgan Fabian, Devon Brodie (Captain), Geneva Nunes, Matt Bluhm, Autumn Boxum, Gabe Benitez, Harley Braun, Will Effertz.
In a razor thin run for the overall spots at Nationals, unfortunately the team missed qualifying by 1 point out of over 2,300. The overall team score for Minnesota was 2,387. Missouri scored 2,388, and Kansas State scored 2,389. For anybody familiar with Soil Judging or those scoring at home, that is less than one 2pt box and in a roll of the dice it didn't work out for us this year. Although it was difficult to accept, the team is moving forward and looking ahead to future learning opportunities at the 2019 NACTA contest in Murray, Kentucky in April.


Does this look like an album cover to anyone?
The Minnesota Formation Pre-Contest: (L-R) Will Effertz, Autumn Boxum, Gabe Benitez, Geneva Nunes, Devon Brodie, Harley Braun, Matt Bluhm. (Carried) Morgan Fabian
Gabe Benitez working on Individual Pit #1
Will Effertz finds a spot to sit and observe while in the fray of team pit #2

Team Captain Devon Brodie working up texture samples
Geneva Nunes completing contemplates the morphological portion of the scorecard
Autumn Boxum and Harley Braun working on texture samples

Matt Bluhm in the fray of an individual pit
Morgan Fabian shoots slope

Thursday, September 20, 2018

2018 Region V Soil Judging Contest: Practice Days 1-3

Gopher Nation: Our sincerest apologies as we have been staying at Tuttle Creek State park just outside of Manhattan, KS with little to no internet access. Tonight's post is an update on the week's activities, which have so far included 3 days of practice pits in and around Riley and Pottawatomie counties.

Kansas has been hot! Temperatures have peaked at over 90F every day since we arrived.

Our students have had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with 12 unique soils in 3 different landscapes. 

On practice Day 1 (Monday), the team described 4 soils on the Buck Creek terrace (the oldest high terrace surface near the junction of the Kansas and Big Blue rivers) formed in loess and reworked loess:

The team describing a Paleustoll formed in loess on a summit position.
An eroded Mollisol (which now classifies as a Haplustalf) on a 7% backslope formed in loess.
On practice Day 2 (Tuesday), the team described 4 soils in glaciated uplands on the Brunkow Farm in northeastern Pottawatomie county:

Glaciated landscape in northeastern Kansas
The team in deep discussion about parent material choices. Pictured (L-R near top of image): Autumn Boxum, Geneva Nunes, Harley Braun, Gabe Benitez, Will Effertz. Pictured (sitting top-bottom): Morgan Fabian, Devon Brodie, Matt Bluhm.
An Argiustoll formed from Illinoian or pre-Illinoian glacial till on a summit position. There is a purple Sioux quartzite coarse fragment just to the left and below the 20cm mark on the black and white photo tape. That rock was likely transported from Minnesota or South Dakota!

On practice Day 3 (Wednesday), the team described 4 soils in the Flint Hills south of Manhattan, KS:

Flint Hills high prairie summit position. This soil is formed in loess over limestone residuum.
An Argiustoll formed in colluvium over Permian mudstone residuum on a backslope.
Tomorrow brings contest day. The team has made excellent progress in understanding Kansan soils and landscapes. 

We are at one with our soil texture triangles. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

2018 Region V Soil Judging Contest: Arrival in the Little Apple

2018 Regional Soil Judging Team: Top Row (L-R): Morgan Fabian, Autumn Boxum, Geneva Nunes, Will Effertz, Matt Bluhm, Harley Braun. Bottom Row (L-R) Gabe Benitez, Devon Brodie (Captain). 
After a pre-dawn wake up and load-out, the University of Minnesota Soil Judging team left Borlaug Hall at 5:00AM. The team arrived in Manhattan, KS (the Little Apple) around 3:00PM, purchased groceries for the week, and organized equipment. After an excellent dinner provided by our contest hosts, Kansas State University, we were given an area orientation talk by Dr. DeAnn Presley. We are looking forward to the next 3 days of practice in what is looking like some hot weather!

A huge thank to contest organizers Dr. Mickey Ransom, Kim Hay, Dr. DeAnn Presley, and the official judges from USDA-NRCS.

Our week of learning and exploration begins...

Be at one with your soil texture triangles!

Monday, September 3, 2018

2018 University of Minnesota ASA Regional Soil Judging: A Prelude and Thank You

As we round the corner into early September, the ASA Regional Soil Judging Contest is just a couple of weeks away. Students return to campus tomorrow and a traveling team of eight highly motivated, highly dedicated soil judgers will represent the University of Minnesota in Manhattan, KS from September 16th-21st for the 2018 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!


Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 NACTA Soil Judging - Contest Day

After a cold, snowy beginning of the week, it was a relief for everyone that the precipitation originally predicted for Friday held off. The morning was cool, but warmed up quickly, and the contest organizers did an amazing job selecting a contest site that showed the judgers a combination of everything they had seen in practice throughout the week.

In four pits on the practice site, the students described soils formed in eolian sand, loess, colluvium, and glacial till!

Gopher Soil Judging - Contest Ready! L-R: Matt Bluhm, Morgan Fabian, Gabe Benitez, Autumn Boxum, Geneva Nunes, Harley Braun, Devon Brodie, Will Effertz.

Contest Site east of Norfolk, NE
Gabe Benitez ponders soil texture as he looks out across the landscape. 
Autumn Boxum and Geneva Nunes work on the pit face with other 4-year contestants.

Harley Braun and Will Effertz working on texture and color as they wait to rotate back into the pit.
Morgan Fabian settles in to some texture samples
Devon Brodie working on the pit face
Gabe Benitez and Matt Bluhm completing their descriptions on the 3rd contest site.

2018 UMN NACTA Soil Judging team post-contest: (L-R): Will Effertz, Morgan Fabian, Matt Bluhm, Geneva Nunes, Devon Brodie (Captain), Autumn Boxum, Harley Braun, Nic Jelinski (Coach)
The team left Nebraska soon after the contest and arrived home safely to Borlaug Hall around 10:30PM on Friday evening. We won't find out the results until the scores and materials are sent to us, but an excellent educational experience was had by all! 

2018 NACTA Soil Judging - Day 3

The team finished the practice sites by completing four descriptions on a bluebird eastern Nebraska day on the Henzler Farm in Pierce County. The site was mantled by loess and eolian sands on the uplands. After what seems like weeks of snow, spirits were high!

Henzler site on a beautiful Nebraska morning.
The first site was an Inceptisol formed in eolian stand on a ridge top. The soil was still frozen in the morning, but with a little bit of body heat and the rising sun, texturing wasn't too difficult.

Ridge tops at the Henzler site underlain by sandy/loamy eolian material. 
A Haplustept formed in eolian material on a ridge top.
By the time we got to the second pit of the day, the sun was fully up, but there was still frost in the pit, as this pit was a colluvial soil on a concave landscape position that had been completely filled by drifted snow in the days prior.

A Haplustoll formed in loamy co-alluvium derived from loess and eolian sands.
 We finished the day with a team pit, and then took a drive to the west to loop through the easternmost part of the Nebraska Sandhills before returning to Norfolk.

Thursday Flannel Day for UMN Soil Judging. Back Row (L-R) Nic Jelinski (Coach), Will Effertz, Gabe Benitez, Matt Bluhm, Devon Brodie (Captain). Front Row (L-R) Morgan Fabian, Geneva Nunes, Harley Braun, Autumn Boxum.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

2018 NACTA Soil Judging - Day 2

The team woke up to two inches of snow in Norfolk and it started feeling more like home. The team described 4 pits on the Northeast Community College campus farm, two as individuals and two as a team. These soils were formed in eolian sand and glacial till.

2 inches of fresh snow in Norfolk, NE on Tuesday morning!
Autumn Boxum, Gabe Benitez, and Harley Braun working on individual descriptions of a soil formed in eolian sand.
A beautiful former Mollisol (now currently classified as an Inceptisol) formed in colluvium with a 40cm mantle of post-settlement eolian sand over the top on a toselope position.
NECC Farm showing glacial till/morainal landscape on the left and center, with a lower, eolian sand landscape and floodplain in the far right corner.
Matt Bluhm, Gabe Benitez, and Morgan Fabian working on individual descriptions of a soil formed in Pre-Illinoian glacial till.
A soil formed in Pre-Illinoian glacial till. This pit did a really nice job of showing the students the variability of the till in the area.

2018 NACTA Soil Judging - Day 1

Today, the team described four pits (two as a team and two individually) northeast of Norfolk in Wayne County, Nebraska, at the Thompson Wildlife Management Area. The landscape is comprised predominantly of dissected loess uplands. Due to all of the snow and winds they had in Norfolk over the past few days, several of the pits had large amounts of snow filling them. A huge thanks to Sarah Sellin (contest organizer with Northeast Community College) for staying out late the night before scooping snow out of pits with a backhoe!
Thompson WMA landscape - Wayne County, NE. This property was in agriculture until approximately 25 years ago.
We dug out the rest as best we could, describing a Haplustoll on a shoulder position.

Geba Benitez and Devon Brodie getting in an early morning workout.
Devon Brodie and Will Effertz discussing horizon morphology and nomenclature.
It was a tale of two days, because in the afternoon, the sun came out, the wind died down, and the temperature climbed to 50 degrees. All of us cold hardy Minnesotans were complaining about how hot it was. We described a Haplustept (an eroded
Haplustoll) on a backslope with some beautiful redoximorphic features that the official judges and NRCS soil scientists have interpreted as relict. Pipestems and nodules abounded.

A Haplustept on a backslope position.

This is about when the entire team started complaining that it was WAY TOO HOT. Will Effertz, Matt Bluhm, Morgan Fabian, Gabe Benitez, and Autumn Boxum working on a portion of a team description sheet.
Cross section through a pipestem redox feature interpreted as relict. You can see a root channel running through the center of the feature. We are a bit skeptical...

2018 NACTA Soil Judging - The Road to Norfolk

Your Gopher Soil Judging team shoveled themselves out early Monday morning and met in the front of Borlaug Hall at 5AM in 23 degree weather. Spirits were high, smiles abounded, and all were motivated and dedicated.

A motivated 2018 UMN NACTA Soil Judging squad prior to leaving for Norfolk, NE. L-R: Geneva Nunes, Gabe Benitez (in sandals), Harley Braun, Devon Brodie (Captain), Matt Bluhm, Autumn Boxum, Morgan Fabian, Will Effertz.
 We made a brief detour on or way to Norfolk, stopping by the Murray Hill Overlook near Little Sioux, IA. That pit stop allowed us to discuss eolian processes and the formation of the Loess Hills while standing on top of 150-200ft of loess overlooking the Missouri River valley in western IA.

UMN Soil Judging walking down a ridge trail at the Murray Hill Overlook near Little Sioux, IA. To the west in the floodplain of the Missouri River. The team is on a bluff comprised of loess. 

2018 NACTA Soil Judging - Prelude

The University of Minnesota Soil Judging team is traveling to the 2018 NACTA Soil Judging Contest hosted by Northeast Community College in Norfolk, NE from April 16th - 20th. A huge thank you to the organizers of this contest for preparing pits for our students in inclement weather conditions (Norfolk got hit with the same snowstorm that hit the Cities over the weekend).

Eight UMN judgers are traveling to Norfolk. Five of our students are new to Soil Judging, while 3 of our students participated in previous contests. We have a highly motivated, highly dedicated team who are all looking forward to spending a week learning about soil morphology and classification.

We are at one with our texture triangles.