• The Official Website of the Exponent, Wisconsin's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper May 17, 2013

Soil team wins at regionals

Nicole Gartner, General Reporter
April 18, 2013

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Collegiate Soil Team took first place at regionals in Lubbock Texas April 2-5.

According to Austin Ewoldt, a team member and a junior soil and crop science major stated that the contestants are judged on marking the correct parent material of the soil, which can be from water (alluvium), loess (wind-blown), etc. They also have to correctly identify the layers of the soil called horizons, the color of the soil using the Munsell color system and the correct texture of the soil (sand, silt, clay). Lastly, they have to be able to identify if the soil would be suitable as road fill, for a house with a basement, or a septic system.

In the coming year the team will be hosting the National Soils Competition at UW-Platteville. Brandon Hall, a senior soil and crop science major is excited to be hosting nationals, although that means UW-Platteville can not participate in it, but states they will have to dig eight to 12 pits for the competition.

According to Sarah Smith, a junior soil and crop science major and team member, they will be very busy making sure all the judging sites for practice or contest are not falling apart or filling with water. The team will also be helping to organize all participants throughout the week at various events, including the days of the contest. Members of the team will be working on contest days to make sure all rules are followed and that the day runs smoothly.

There are 15 students at UW-Platteville that participate on this team at regionals and NACTA. Austin says being a member of the soil team has given him a chance to be involved with agriculture related events on campus such as fundraisers, the land judging contest for local high school contestants and Agriculture Day.

Sarah, agreeing, said that being a member has allowed them to travel across the country and learn more about soils.  Sarah said being a member of the Soil Team has opened doors for her career by being offered a summer internship with the National Resource Conservation Service as a student trainee soil scientist, which could eventually turn into a full-time position when she graduates.

The Soil Team meets every Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. in 123 Russell Hall. Anyone can join the soils team if they have an interest in soil.

Brandon said they practice maps, soils and collections of pans at these meetings. Austin said the team also builds soil texture kits and sends them to different institutions across the country so they have examples of soils found in this area.

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