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...