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Oct. 21, 2009
Northwest's soils judging team won the American Society of Agronomy Region 5 Soil Judging Contest last week in Columbia and now advances to the 2010 national competition in Lubbock, Texas, in March.
Northwest, the only NCAA Division II school to compete in the regional competition, claimed the victory over Kansas State University, the defending two-time national champions, University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota and South Dakota State University.
Northwest's seven-member team is coached by Dr. Jamie Patton, assistant professor of agriculture. Patton said this is the third year Northwest participated in the contest and the first year to place in the competition. In addition to the team placing first overall and first in the group judging competition, Northwest students Jeremiah Mullock received first place in the individual competition, and Justin Findley placed second. Other Northwest team members include Matt Brown, Matias Callieri, Eric Puckett, Chris Schumacher and Chester Greub. In all, 57 students took part in the seven-state regional event.
During a soil judging contest, students describe and classify the soil profile in several pits. While in the pit, they describe the color, texture and structure, as well as many other properties of the soil horizon. Team members use their observations to classify the parent material, water-holding ability and suitability for different uses of each soil sample. They also determine the soil characteristics within a time limit and rotate among the pits during competition. The student's final descriptions are ranked in comparison to the official judges to determine contest winners. Soil judging contests allow students to gain direct experience with soils and land use in other regions, increase their overall knowledge and experience level and learn cooperative decision-making skills.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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