College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Environmental Science & Technology

Terps Take Top Soil Judging Honors in NE Regional Competition

Two UMD teams advance to nationals
UMD Soil Judging Teams.
Image Credit: 
Jaclyn Fiola

The University of Maryland proved its soil judging prowess by taking both first and second place in the Northeast Regional Soil Judging Competition hosted by the Ohio State University in Wooster, Ohio on October 16th. This marks the 22nd time a team from UMD has won the regional competition.

Thirteen teams from eight universities competed in this reputable soil judging contest that dates back to the 1960s and involves much more than simply collecting soil samples. To be successful, student team members must demonstrate an intricate understanding of soil properties as well as the structural features found throughout.

 “During the course of one very full day, students examine five soil pits, identify the depths and boundaries of the various soil horizons, describe different properties of each of the horizons and then classify soil according to the USDA Soil Taxonomy,” explained Martin Rabenhorst, a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology (ENST) who serves as coach for the soil judging teams.


Both the UMD A Team and UMD B Team finished well ahead of the third place squad from Penn State University. Additionally, Maryland’s teams had six students earn top ten individual honors.  Chris Seitz, an ENST major, placed first overall while plant science major Jaclyn Fiola and ENST major Victoria Monsaint-Queeney took second and third. In sixth place was civil engineering major Daniel Smith followed by ENST major Chenglin Zhu in seventh and ENST major Kristi Persing in ninth. 

Both UMD teams will represent the Northeast region in the National Collegiate Soil Judging contest in April, which will be hosted by Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Since 1972, UMD has won three national championships in soil judging. The most recent was in 2013.

To view more photos of the UMD soil judging team in action during the Northeast Regional Soil Judging Competition, click here.

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