CLEMSON — Clemson University will host the 2014 Southeast Regional Collegiate Soil Judging Contest beginning Sunday through Oct. 9 at sites on and around campus. Some 150 participants from 11 Southern universities will spend four days describing, classifying and interpreting soils to master techniques used to understand soil and landscape characteristics.

Clemson University Soil Judging Team

Clemson University’s soil-judging team
Image Credit: Clemson

Reading and interpreting soil characteristics is vital to 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 the region that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Participants describe, classify and interpret soil characteristics and their suitability for agriculture, urban development and subsurface water treatment. Teams placing in the top five qualify to compete in the national contest held in the spring.

Soil judging prepares students for careers in soil science, natural resource management, agriculture, environmental consulting, research and teaching.

As the host university, Clemson is excluded from competing this year. Participating universities include:

  • Auburn University
  • Murray State University
  • North Carolina State University
  • Tennessee Tech University
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville
  • University of Tennessee-Martin
  • Virginia Tech
  • West Virginia University
  • Western Kentucky University

“Soil judging gives students the hands-on skills necessary for many jobs in agriculture, forestry, and environmental sciences,” said Elena Mikhailova, associate professor of soil science and soil-judging faculty adviser.

This year’s event is sponsored by a Clemson University Creative Inquiry undergraduate research team that adapts soil judging to other countries, such as Cameroon, China and Venezuela. Invited guests include Barbara J. Speziale, director of Creative inquiry; Pam Thomas, associate director of Soil Survey Programs; Jack Lewis, acting state conservationist; Evelyn Whitesides, acting S.C. state soil scientist; and Debbie Anderson, N.C. soil scientist at USDA-NRCS.