A look inside the world of soil judging

Women standing on a pile of soil

Slide 1. The 2013 collegiate soils competition took place in Platteville, WI, a farming community nestled in southwestern Wisconsin’s driftless area—a hilly region that was bypassed by the last continental glaciation roughly 10,000 years ago. The competitors’ charge is two-fold. First, they must scientifically classify the soils they examine into different types, similar to how biologists assign plants and animals to different species. Then, they use this information to make management decisions about the soils. How much wastewater can the soil take and at what rate? What are the limitations of the soil for building roads and basements? This year, contestants had to bundle up. Competition begins promptly at 8 am every day, and spring in Wisconsin is chilly.

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