The tradition of holding a soils judging contest for FFA students was restarted at the golden anniversary Farm Progress Show in 2003. It continues today every other year, when the show is held in Decatur, Ill.
Several Indiana schools competed in 2019. Gary Steinhardt, Purdue University Extension soil specialist; Randy Staley, Clay City, Ind., a private soil scientist; and Scott Wiesbrook, a soil scientist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, judged a practice pit and four contest pits. Host farmer Dennis Brix dug the pits, and Dennis Bowman headed up a crew of University of Illinois Extension personnel who conducted and scored the contest. Farm Credit Mid-America provided cash awards for both top teams and individuals in Indiana.
Ironically, all five pits were well-drained and resembled some timber soils in Indiana. While most of the Farm Progress Show site consists of prairie soils with drainage issues, the area used for this year’s contest is in a transition zone between prairie and timber soils.
North Decatur FFA, Greensburg, captured first place in the Indiana contest. The team coached by FFA Advisor Tyler Johnson consisted of Olivia Vanderbur, Blaine Wagner, Sara Hasselbring and Kenny Geis.
South Newton FFA, Kentland, captured second and third place. Both teams were coached by Darrell Allen. The second-place team consisted of Alex Kindig, Andrew Kindig, Hayden Berenda and Kyle Weiss. The third-place team included Zovco McElroy, Stephanie Berenda, Irma Cruz and Logan Kollman.
The first-, second- and third-place individuals, respectively, were Vanderbur and Wagner, North Decatur, and Kollman, South Newton.
See the team photos below: