UW-Platteville places fifth, Nollen is second highest individual in national soils competition

Soil judging team
Pictured left to right: Ashley Lamm, Tresa Jo Koopmeiners, Isaac Nollen, Jackson Christenson, Brooklynn Hill, Nicole Plenty and Katie Bannick.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Collegiate Soils Team competed in the 61st Soil Science Society of America National Collegiate Soils Contest March 26-31. The event was held in Woodward, Harper and Ellis counties, Oklahoma, and was hosted by Oklahoma State University. Participating in the event were students from 23 universities, representing seven different regions of the United States. UW-Platteville, along with Purdue University and UW-Stevens Point, represented Region 3, which includes universities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. UW-Platteville qualified for nationals by placing first in the regional competition held in fall 2022.

The week-long event was an intensive field study of the soils and geomorphology of northwest Oklahoma and culminated in individual and group competitions where contestants described and classified soil and landscape features using techniques developed by professional soil scientists. The contestants also used field descriptions to evaluate soil properties, such as water storage and erosion potential, and determined suitability of the soil for various land uses such as building sites and septic systems. Scoring was based on the agreement between the contestants' descriptions and those of professional soil scientists serving as contest officials.

The UW-Platteville team was made up of Katie Bannick, soil and crop science major from Deer Grove, Illinois; Jackson Christenson, soil and crop science/agribusiness double major from Reeseville, Wisconsin;  Brooklynn Hill, environmental science major from Appleton, Wisconsin; Ashley Lamm, soil and crop science/agribusiness double major from Freeport, Illinois; Tresa Jo Koopmeiners, soil and crop science major from Reedsburg, Wisconsin; Isaac Nollen, soil and crop science major from Pontiac, Illinois; and Nicole Plenty, soil and crop science major from Delevan, Wisconsin. The team was coached by Dr. Chris Baxter, professor of reclamation, environment, and conservation and soil and crop science.

Despite having the smallest enrollment of all the universities competing, UW-Platteville placed sixth in group judging and fifth overall. Isaac Nollen placed second and Nicole Plenty placed 15th out of 92 students in the individual competition. Nollen placed third in the spring 2022 national soils contest, held in Ohio, and third again in the international soil judging competition, held in Scotland, in summer of 2022.

Funding for team travel and equipment was provided by the Segregated University Fees Allocation Commission, the Doug and Jean Buhler Undergraduate Travel Impact Grant, the Wisconsin Certified Crop Advisors and donations made by alumni and friends to the UW-Platteville Foundation - Soils and Crops Teams Endowment Fund.

For further information on the contest, joining the Soils Team or to help sponsor the team through donations, contact Chris Baxter at baxterch@uwplatt.edu. Team updates and pictures from this and previous contests can be found at www.facebook.com/UWPsoils.