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Teams competed for cash prizes in this invitational contest at the 2019 Farm Progress Show.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

September 12, 2019

2 Min Read
soil judgers
LEARNING SESSION: These contest participants returned to the soil pits after the contest to learn from soil scientists who helped them evaluate various soil properties. Tom J. Bechman

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 time the show visits Decatur, Ill.

Several Illinois schools competed in the 2019 contest. Gary Steinhardt, Purdue University Extension soil specialist; Randy Staley, a private soil scientist from Clay City, Ind.; and Scott Wiesbrook, a soil scientist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, judged a practice pit and four contest pits. FPS host farmer David 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 Illinois provided cash awards for top teams and individuals.

This was the first contest where newly revised rules for soils judging in Illinois were used. These rules will be used in FFA soils judging contests during the rest of the season.

Ironically, all five pits were well-drained, although topsoil was scored as “dark.” 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.


Vandalia FFA captured first place in the contest. This team, coached by FFA Advisor Mandy Totten, included Ali Willenborg, Nick Clark, Cassidy Anderson and Elizabeth Cable.

Valmeyer FFA, coached by Mark Mueller, took second place. Team members included John Fausz, Logan Henerfauth, Jacob Mosbacher and Lexi Mueller. South Central FFA placed third, coached by T.J. Bolin. Team members were Dennis Wallen, Alec Langley, Macy Densho and Mason Robb.

Lexi Mueller from Valmeyer FFA was the top individual in the contest. Second and third places, respectively, went to Elizabeth Cable and Ali Willenborg, both of Vandalia FFA.

See the team photos below:

Elizabeth Cable, Ali Willenborg, Nick Clark, Cassidy Anderson

WINNING TEAM: The Vandalia FFA team that won the 2019 Farm Progress Show soils judging contest includes Elizabeth Cable (left), Ali Willenborg, Nick Clark and Cassidy Anderson.
Mark Mueller, Jacob Mosbacher, Logan Henerfauth, John Fausz, Lexi Mueller, Aimee Poskin

2ND-PLACE FINISH: Valmeyer FFA placed second. The team includes FFA Advisor Mark Mueller (left), Jacob Mosbacher, Logan Henerfauth, John Fausz and Lexi Mueller. They are joined by Aimee Poskin with Farm Credit Illinois.
T.J. Bolin, Dennis Wallen, Alec Langley, Macy Densho, Mason Robb, Alexis Coweger, Aimee Poskin

3RD-PLACE TEAM: South Central FFA took third place. The team includes FFA Advisor T.J. Bolin (left), Dennis Wallen, Alec Langley, Macy Densho, Mason Robb and alternate Alexis Coweger. They are joined by Aimee Poskin with Farm Credit Illinois.


About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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