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BVU hosts FFA Northwest Iowa District Soils Judging contest

October 14, 2020 3:25pm

Eighty Northwest Iowa high school students reported to Buena Vista University’s new Agricultural Experiment Station on Oct. 7 for the FFA District Soils Judging Contest. The day played out beneath blue skies, sunshine, and 80-degree temperatures.

“I’d like to take credit for the weather, but I can’t,” said Rich Crow, Director of BVU’s new Institute for Agriculture. “But we’re very happy you’re here and can enjoy it with us.”

Crow can take some credit for the contest playing out the new Agricultural Experiment Station, an extension of the BVU campus offering students of all disciplines the chance to experience a diversified farm. BVU students this fall have already prepared livestock for show competition, helped harvest corn and soybeans and have hosted a horseback-riding event for dozens of Beavers, among other activities.

On Wednesday, the site played host to a competition in which high school FFA participants judged soil profiles from four pits, or trenches, dug in various field sites on the farm just north of Storm Lake’s city limits. At stake were five team berths in Iowa’s State FFA Soils Judging Contest.

“I’ve gone to nationals in FFA Meats Judging as a sophomore and then to nationals in 4-H Meats Judging as a junior,” said Abby Boardman, a senior at South O’Brien High School in Paullina. “Being in the Soils Judging contest here gives me a new opportunity. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

Boardman’s school, directed by longtime FFA Adviser Eric Kumm, placed first in the competition. South O’Brien was followed by Sioux Central, Pocahontas Area, Manson-Northwest Webster, and Sioux Center, in that order. All five FFA teams from those schools advance to the Iowa FFA Soils Judging Contest.

Students completed a written test before spending 25 minutes at each pit site to evaluate the soil’s quality and determine appropriate management recommendations. Students eyed, measured, and felt for texture at each pit while recording their observations.

Brian Lantz, who advises FFA students at South Central Calhoun High School, lauded the efforts of BVU in hosting the contest. “It’s nice to have a site like this farm so close to BVU,” said Lantz. “It’s a great addition for the ag programming at BVU. We’re really happy to be here.”

Crow hailed the work of volunteers from the Soil Conservation Service as well as those from the Northwest Iowa FFA District officer team in helping him and the BVU Institute for Agriculture staff in seeing the effort through.

“The soil is where agriculture starts,” said Crow, who helps oversee an agriculture program featuring a growing faculty, multiple majors, program tracts, and activities. “Buena Vista University is pleased to be able to serve as host for a contest that will help shape the next generation of professionals dedicated to serving us and a growing world that is increasingly dependent upon the care and ensured health of our soils. Improving and sustaining the quality of our soil is central to everything we do.”

High schools represented in the Soils Judging Contest, in addition to those finishing in the top five, include: Akron-Westfield, Harris-Lake Park, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn, Le Mars Community, MMC-RU, OABCIG, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Unity Christian, West Lyon, and West Sioux.