Monday, April 15, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: Results - Minnesota Takes First Place!

The team arrived safely back to Borlaug Hall on Saturday, April 13th around midnight. We are happy to report that the team took first place overall at the NACTA contest! Our very own Autumn Boxum took 3rd place in individual judging. Congratulations to the team for putting in many hours of hard work.
2019 University of Minnesota NACTA Soil Judging Team (L-R): Will Effertz, Devon Brodie (Assistant Coach), Autumn Boxum (3rd Place Individual), Morgan Fabian, Gabe Benitez (Captain), Cole Stenberg, Abbie Clapp, Geneva Nunes, Matt Bluhm, Harley Braun, Nic Jelinski (Coach)
The team post-contest.
But...even after the contest we weren't done! We traveled about 40 minutes south to Dresden, TN to see a beautiful Lamellic Hapludult:

Some folks have previously called this the "bacon soil"
And our final stop was at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana to see the Illinois State Soil (the Drummer) with our host, Dr. Kevin McSweeney!
UMN Soil Judging with the Drummer soil and Dr. Kevin McSweeney on the UIUC campus
A huge thanks to the donors who made this amazing experience a possibility. Look for an epilogue soon!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: Practice Day 1

After completing our pre-contest trip and getting settled in to Murray, the team was chomping at the bit to get out and see some Kentucky soils! We are in the heart of fragipan country in this part of Kentucky, and the soils did not disappoint. We saw two fantastic fragipans (one in a Aqualf and one in a better-drained Udalf) at the Murray State West Farm and an additional soil without a fragipan at the Brannon farm just over the border in Tennessee. We are excited for the remaining practice pits and looking forward to continued exposure to new soils and landscapes!

UMN Soil Judging with an early start to the day on a beautiful Kentucky morning (Murray State West Farm)
A Udalf formed in loess on the Murray State West Farm
A beautiful fragipan!

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: Arrival in Murray!

The team arrived safely in Murray on Sunday night April 7th. We spent much of Monday getting organized, cleaning ourselves up, and going grocery shopping for the week ahead. We had the University of Idaho Soil Judging team (coached by Allison Harvey, current UofIdaho M.S. student and former UMN soil judger!) over for a pasta dinner. Idaho and Minnesota students bonded over our long travels and enjoyed each other's company so much that we are planning to get together again on Thursday evening!
UMN Soil Judging and University of Idaho Soil Judging sharing a meal and great conversations about soils!

Monday, April 8, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: The Road to Murray - Day 3 - TN Ridge and Valley Ultisols

The team made a stop at the UT-Knoxville East Tennessee Research and Education Center (ETREC) on Sunday - special thanks to Andrew Sherfy and Manny Sabbagh (future UMN Ph.D. student!) - for facilitating our visit. We described an Ultisol formed in shale residuum in the uplands south of Knoxville, and looked at a weakly developed soil the floodplain of the Tennessee River.

Students describing an upland Ultisol of the Tennessee Ridge and Valley province. In the background in the blue jacket is our host (and future UMN SWAC Ph.D. student) Manny Sabbagh.
A Typic Hapludult formed in shale residuum on a backslope.
A Typic Udorthent formed in alluvial sediments on a floodplain of the Tennessee River 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: The Road to Murray - Day 2 - NC Piedmont Ultisols

The team spent the day looking at soils in the North Carolina Piedmont at the NC State Lake Wheeler Research Farm outside of Raleigh, NC. After a brief area orientation from Dr. Matt Ricker (pedologist, NC State), the team described an upland soil formed in residuum on a backslope. It was the first time most of our students had ever used the 2.5YR and 5YR color pages!

A Typic Kanhapludult formed in residuum on a shoulder position
Simply amazed at these soils!
We took a quick break to take a picture with Drs. Mike Vepraskas, Matt Ricker, and the NCSU SSC 452 course before they headed west on a field trip.

UMN, NCSU, and a beautiful NC Piedmont soil!
In the afternoon, our students took a shot at describing the NC state soil (the Cecil):

The Cecil, a Typic Kanhapludult
Tonight we're in the Blue Ridge, and tomorrow onward through the mountains to Knoxville, TN. Stay Frosty!

Friday, April 5, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: The Road to Murray - Day 1 - VA Coastal Plain Ultisols

Our team spent the day at the VA Tech Tidewater (Agricultural Education and Research Center) in Suffolk, VA with hosts Dr. Ben Davies (former SWAC PhD student), Dr. Maria Balota, Dr. David Langston, Dr. Brice Cazenave, and Doug Redd. This amazing group of local experts taught us about agriculture on the Virginia coastal plain, including peanuts, cotton, soybeans, and a number of other emerging specialty crops.

Doug Redd (second from right) explaining peanut anatomy and physiology greenhouse to Devon Brodie (right) in the Tidewater AREC greenhouse
We then took to the field to describe an Ultisol formed in fine-loamy marine sediments on a backslope - note the beautiful redox features. The lab pH (1:1 H2O) of that bottom horizon is ~ 4.2).
An Aquic Paleudult formed in fine-loamy coastal plain sediments on a 4% backslope
Will Effertz in the pit while Dr. Ben Davies and Autumn Boxum talk about coastal plain agricultural management
Dr. Ben Davies telling the group about recently established Camolina trials
Our final stop at the Tidewater AREC was to a pit which had a much higher water table than the first stop. Our hosts had pumped the pit down the day before and the water level in the pit rose again significantly overnight. Although we could only describe the top ~70cm of this soil, it was much more poorly drained than the first soil.
A Typic Endoaquult (most likely classification)
Our final task of the day was a drive out of the Virginia Coastal Plain and into the North Carolina Piedmont to our lodging at an old farmhouse in Creedmoor, NC. Tomorrow brings the famous Ultisols of the NC Piedmont and a visit with Dr. Matt Rickert and some members of the NC State Soil Judging Team! Until then...

Thursday, April 4, 2019

2019 NACTA Soil Judging: The Road to Murray - Day 0

The UMN Soil Judging Team made it safely to Suffolk, VA for the evening. We are staying near the Great Dismal Swamp NWR and made a stop there just before sunset to see Lake Drummond and discuss chemical processes in saturated soils. Tomorrow brings Ultisols formed in marine sediments at the VA Tech Tidewater Agricultural Research and Education Center with Dr. Ben Davies, a 2018 graduate of the UMN Department of Soil, Water and Climate!

The cypress swamps of the Great Dismal Swamp NWR outside of Suffolk, VA
The shores of Lake Drummond, at the heart of the Great Dismal Swamp NWR