Life in the Pits

The K-State Soil Judging Team competed at the American Society of Agronomy Region V Contest hosted by Northwest Missouri State University Sept. 17-21st.  After three days and 15 practice pits,Image we went up against seven other teams from the region (University of Minnesota, South Dakota State, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, Iowa State, Northwest Missouri State, Missouri State, and Mizzou).

Here’s the basics of soil judging: We climb in pits dug 5-7 feet deep in the ground and pick at it with a soil knife to uncover a fresh, moist profile. These pits are often in pastures, row crops, irrigation circles, forests, and even between buildings in town. When we look at the soil profiles, we describe things like horizon boundaries, texture, structure, and concentrations. We describe the landscape and properties like water conductivity; determine the parent material the soil was formed from; classify the soil; and rate it for things like wetness, runoff, and septic system suitability.

At the end of the competition the scores are tallied using four team members’ scores from two individually judged pits, and scores from three team judged pits where the entire team can collaborate with each other.

K-State came in 3rd place, so we move on to compete at the national level in the spring!  The top four teams from each region move on to nationals. This year we are going to University of Wisconsin- Platteville.


More than half of our judgers were new to the team this fall. Placing 3rd is a huge accomplishment and really shows the leadership in our older members and the initiative in our new members. I couldn’t be more proud to bring purple to the pits!

In Sisterhood,

Michelle Busch


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