STEPHENVILLE (October 16, 2015) — Tarleton State University hosts the 2015 Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest beginning Oct. 22 at sites within Erath County. Some 40 participants from five universities will spend five days in Stephenville describing, classifying and interpreting soils to master techniques used to understand soil and landscape characteristics.
Reading and interpreting soil characteristics is vital for deciding the suitability for dwellings with basements, septic-tank absorption fields and local roads and streets.
Soil-judging contests provide hands-on experience in soil morphology and classification. Students from various fields participate in the contest each fall at a university in Region 4 that includes Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico and Louisiana. This year, Tarleton was selected by the American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America to host the Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest. Tarleton last hosted the competition in 2004.
Participants describe, classify and interpret soil characteristics and their suitability for agriculture, urban development and subsurface water treatment. Teams placing at the top qualify to compete in the national contest held each spring.
Soil judging prepares students for careers in soil science, natural resource management, agriculture, environmental consulting, research and teaching.
As the host university, Tarleton is excluded from competing this year. Participating universities are: Texas A&M University, University of Arkansas, Texas Tech University and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“Although the students are disappointed that they cannot compete, they are decidedly excited to be hosts and show off our campus and, perhaps more importantly, our soils,” said Associate Professor of Environmental Soil Science and Biogeochemistry Dr. Donald McGahan.
Teams begin arriving in Stephenville Sunday, Oct. 18 and will hone their skills at excavation sties owned by Tarleton and prepared and characterized by Tarleton faculty and the soil scientists with the local U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services (USDA-NRCS). Individual competitions occur Oct. 22 with the team competitions scheduled for Oct. 23.
“This is an experiential event where participants see new soils and hone their skills at describing, classifying, and interpreting the soil suitability for various uses,” said McGahan. “The experience and skills that are refined are those that many employers desire the most. The demands of preparing to host the event are great, but the honor is also great.”
For more information about Tarleton’s Department of Wildlife, Sustainability & Ecosystem Sciences, visit www.tarleton.edu/aahrm. Additional information about the university’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences is available atwww.tarleton.edu/coaes.