TTU soil judging team is second in southeast region, advance to national competition at Texas A & M

Tennessee Tech University’s soil judging team placed second in the southeast regional contest held last month at Clemson University.

The win gives the team an opportunity — for the third year in a row — to advance to the national soil judging contest, which will be hosted this year by Texas A & M.

"There are currently more than 17,000 unique soils recognized across the United States, so it’s a great accomplishment when our students can go into these different areas and learn to describe their soils," said Coach Gabe Krantz.

It’s often a skill not easily learned, however. For example, he added, the prediction of water movement is a major focus of environmental industries right now.

"Students use this skill to give recommendations for construction site development, septic absorption fields and urban development," Krantz said.

But successfully judging water movement requires an understanding of how chemicals migrate under different conditions and an ability to assess potential problems based on particular soil properties.

"Soil science is similar to forensic science in that we expect our team to be able to look into a pit and tell what’s happened in the past to form a particular soil, as well as predict future processes," he said.

At the southeast regional contest, TTU was among 12 southern universities who sent their best environmental and agriculture students to compete.

Top honors at the contest went to Auburn University, but two TTU team members finished with high individual honors. They are David Hargis of Cookeville, who finished with 6th high individual, and Caleb Gulley of Smithville, who finished with 8th high individual.