The University of Maryland Soil Judging Team at Work
Soil Judging is a National Intercollegiate Contest which occurs every year in Colleges across the country. Schools first compete at the regional level in the fall and the top winning teams, in each of the regions of the United States, go on to compete in the National contest in the spring. The location of the regional and national contests rotate every year. During a Soil Judging Contest, students are asked to describe the characteristics of a soil profile in four different pits. Students take turns going in and out of each pit under a strict time limit. While they are in the pit they describe the color, texture, consistence, structure, and other properties of each soil horizon. Then, they make interpretations about the soil such as its classification, its parent material, its suitability for different land uses, and its water holding properties. At the end of the time limit, students rotate to the next pit until they have characterized the horizons in each of the four different soil pits. The student's soil descriptions are scored and the participants that come the closest to the descriptions of the official judges win the contest.
The students below were members of the University of Maryland College Park Soil Judging Team (Northeast region).
(Photos courtesy of Dr. Marty Rabenhorst, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.)