Soil judging at the University of Maryland

A muddy pit in Laurel is one of fifty practice spaces used by the University of Maryland National Champion Soil Judging Team. But what is soil judging?

Soil judging is a competitive intercollegiate academic event where students describe and interpret soils.

Soil judging actually helps to restore nature and build smarter and grow more crops.

It may not be the first extracurricular you think of joining, but Professor Brian Needelman says his team members are hooked after some experimentation.

“Usually it's something that you discover while you're in college. you have to find people that are maybe a little crazy - that want to do it cause they just love it,” Needelman says.

The competition starts with determining differences in the soil face.

“Your goal is going to be to take this knife and figure out the six different horizons,” Needelman says.

After collecting samples, the team examines for mineral attachment, if water can move through it and other characteristics, which is important if you've got soil that has crops such as around us or if you're trying to stick a basement in it, you really don't want water down there.