The University of Maryland Soil Judging had a successful trip to the 2018 National Soil Judging Contest, finishing 4th out of twenty-two universities from seven regions around the country. The Terps finished 2nd in the group judging portion of the contest, and also had two contestants finish in the top 20 individually: Jesse Wyner (14th) and Philip Schwartz (16th). The contest was hosted by the University of Tennessee at Martin.
To “judge” a soil, students spend one hour in a 5-foot-deep pit describing the characteristics of the various layers that have developed in the soil, the ability of the soil to transmit and retain water and support roots, the geological history of the site, the long-term processes of soil development, the classification of the soil, and the potential challenges of using the soil for various land uses. The team enjoyed seeing a diverse array of soils found in the gulf coastal plain region of western Tennessee, including buried floodplain soils, wind-blown loess, and fragipans (some real and some imagined). The team was co-coached by Dr. Brian Needelman and Sara Mack from the Department of Environmental Science and Technology. Philip Flint and Moises Umanzor, both of whom graduated December 2017, were unable to join the team in Tennessee. The team graduates seven seniors this year (Derato, Flint, Monsaint-Queeney, Park, Schwartz, Umanzor, and Wyner), the rest plan to lead the team this coming fall. In the meantime, they will be enjoy celebrating their “Final Four” appearance.