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!