Soil Judging Hobart Tasmania

Students gathered from across Australia for the inaugural Australian Soil Judging Competition held on 4 December 2012 in Tasmania’s south. Five teams were fielded from the Universities of Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania. Competitors made their way to the University of Tasmania’s Cambridge Farm for two days of practice prior to the competition day.

This gave everyone a chance to experience a variety of soil types and the unique nature of Tasmania’s variable soils, with the six practice pits located on the farm all offering a distinctively different experience. Over the two practice days, competitors were guided by leading soil scientists from around Australia, along with three soil scientists from Texas A&M University. Two days with the level of knowledge on hand from our mentors proved an invaluable experience and having the opportunity to learn from them was the highlight of the week for many competitors.

With their vast experience in soil judging, the ‘Texans’ also providedgreat tips on how to compete in a soil pit, with time management being highlighted as the biggest priority. As is typical in Tasmania, the beautiful sunny 23˚C weather for the two practice days turned into a wet and windy 14˚C day for the competition. This added an extra element and  presented a challenge for the teams. Once competition day came around, it became apparent that time would be of the essence.

There were two competition pits, a team and an individual pit. The overall winner would be decided from the aggregate of the team pit score combined with the top three individual scores from that team. The team pit was a challenging Black Dermosol while the individual pit was a Brown Sodosol. Winners were announced at a dinner held at the Richmond Arms, where competitors, coaches and mentors were able to unwind and warm up after a wet cold afternoon in the field. The winners of the team pit were The University of Melbourne (Jessica Ashburner, Mark Shaw, Natalie Renshaw, Genya Kot, Stefanie Blake).

The individual winner was Lisa Scholz (University of Queensland). But the overall winners was the team from The University of Tasmania (Marion French, Alex John, Peter McEvoy, Sandra Bales, James Ridgers, Ray Ali), who were coached by Dr David McKenzie from NSW. A big thank you to Dr. Stephen Cattle for organising the event which was well enjoyed by all.