50th Annual National Collegiate Soils Contest Gets Dirty
Story and Photo by Trevor Schafer
Last spring, Texas Tech University, along with the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Resource Conservation Service, had the honor of hosting the National Collegiate Soils Judging Contest in Lubbock.
This year marked a special occasion for the event as it was the 50th annual contest where individuals and teams judge and classify soils.
Nearly two dozen collegiate teams qualified, many of which were land grant universities. From Rhode Island to Oregon, students came to compete in the event from which took place March 21-26.Wayne Hudnall, Ph.D., professor in the plant and soils science department, said in order to compete in the national contest, soil judging teams must place first, second or third in their regional contest.
This year’s contest also featured a special program by B. L. Allen, Ph.D., who helped establish the National Collegiate Soils Judging Contest and was in attendance at the first contest.
One drawback of this year’s event was the eligibility restrictions for Tech. Due to Tech playing host to the contest, they were not allowed to compete, but rather used the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season.
After arriving in Lubbock, teams spent the first four days practicing on soil pits and getting acquainted with team members from other colleges until the contest was finally ready to get underway.
The individual contest took place on March 25 as each competitor took turns rotating through a series of pits and filling out scorecards.
The next day, each team of four then collectively evaluated two pits that would decide the winners of the National Championship.
The scorecards were then evaluated by state soil scientists from the USDA, and once both the individual and team scores were tabulated, and the scores were combined to determine the winner.
In the end, the overall National Collegiate Champion team was Virginia Tech, whose coach is an alumni of Texas Tech. Wisconsin Platteville won the team competition and Jullian Phillips of the University of Rhode Island was the high individual.
Although the Tech soils judging team was unable to compete in this year’s national contest, Hudnall said the team will get their opportunity this fall as they will compete in the regional contest and hopefully clench first, second or third place to advance to the 51st annual contest to be held at Oregon State University in 2011.