Soils Team places 2nd in Kansas

October 12, 2018

The Iowa State University Department of Agronomy’s very own soil team placed second in group judging and second overall out of eight teams in the soils contest hosted by Kansas State University. The team consists of 11 members; Jacob Wright, Kelli Roush, Erik Fevold, Eric Bro, Hannah Weber, John Green, Tristan Dittmer, Jacob Schultz, Austin Day, Collin Stark, and Catherine Thom. The team is coached by Amber Anderson, and her two assistants are Danny Brummel and Josh McDanel.

The team started to prepare once school started, as well as practicing three days on-site prior to the contest in Kansas. During those days in Kansas leading up to the competition, they spent time adjusting to the score cards, along with adopting to the judging styles of Kansas NCRS. They also had the chance to practice with the different soil types and get used to what they could possibly be seeing during the competition. The team practiced a total of 12 practice pits before the contest.  

Over half the team this year is comprised of new members. Being able to learn everyone’s strengths and weaknesses took some time, but by the time competition rolled around, there were drastic improvements within the team. A lot of practice time was spent on terminology and basic/expected soil taxonomy based off of the contest location.

During competition time, there were two individual pits and three team pits where everyone on the team works together to describe the profile. Being able to work together on a pit leaves less stress on each individual person. They split the teams into the focus areas of the competition. There are people who are on the color team, their main goal is to determine the Munsell color for each horizon; there’s the texture team, they determine textural class and clay percentage for each horizon; and finally, they have people who focus on structure, horizonation, landscape, and suitabilities/limitations.

Parts of the scorecard include:

  • horizonation,

  • horizon depths and boundaries,

  • rock fragments,

  • textural class,

  • clay percent,

  • color,

  • structure,

  • redox concentration and depletions,

  • hydraulic conductivity,

  • drainage class,

  • landscape position,

  • hillslope position,

  • slope percent,

  • parent material(s),

  • surface runoff,

  • taxonomy, and suitabilities/limitations.

Practicing with scorecards allows the team to get used to filling out the sheet and seeing how it will go at the actual competition.

Congratulations to the Iowa State University Soils Team! Their hard work put in this early in the semester definitely shines through at competition. Good luck to them as they compete at the ASA national collegiate soil judging contest next spring in San Luis Obispo, California.

The Soils Judging Team is supported by the Department of Agronomy and GROWMARK Foundation.