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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the WVU Soils Team?

The WVU Soils Team is a group of three (3) or more undergraduate students who, though training and practice, have developed skills for the description, analysis, and interpretation of soils and landscapes. West Virginia University competes in the Southeast Region, along with approximately twelve other schools from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. At the Regional Contest students are required to describe soil morphology (color, textures, structure, horizonation, etc.) and determine landscape setting, land use limitations, and taxonomy for four soils. Students have three days to practice their skills in the area of the contest, and then compete with other students to see how close they can come to the assessments of the local soil scientists. Teams whose scores rank in the top five in the Southeast Region earn the opportunity to compete in the National Soils Contest.

What will I learn through participation in the WVU Soils Team?

Students on the WVU Soils team will learn to:

  • Describe soil profiles in the field using accepted techniques of professional soil scientists.
  • Provide basic land use interpretations based on described soil morphological properties.
  • Identify diagnostic soil properties (epipedons, subsurface horizons) and use these to classify soils using Soil Taxonomy.
  • Describe the properties of several soils commonly found in Monongalia Co., WV, and similar landscapes.

The emphasis is on the development of field skills and field methods of soil evaluation. Students will become familiar with many aspects of soil description, including soil texture by feel, soil structure, soil color using the Munsell color system, soil consistence, horizon designation, and the application of Soil Taxonomy. We will also introduce certain site description methods (e.g., identification of landform, parent materials, and geomorphic position; slope and aspect measurement).

Can I receive undergraduate credit for being a member of the WVU Soils Team?

Yes. Students should register for AGRN 125 and will receive one (1) credit per semester. The course may be repeated up to three times for a maximum of three (3) credits.

What are the prerequisites for AGRN 125?

There are no prerequisites for AGRN 125. All necessary skills and knowledge will be introduced, mainly through practical field experience describing and analyzing local West Virginia soils and landscapes.

Where is the Southeast Regional Soils Contest?

The 2016 Southeast Regional Soils Contest will be hosted by Auburn University in Auburn, AL.

Who will pay for travel, lodging, and meals during the contest?

Almost all travel costs will be paid by money gained through Team fundraisers and through the combined financial support of the WVU Plant and Soil Science Club, the WVU Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, and the WVU Student Government.

The Division of Plant and Soil Sciences will provide the van that we will drive to and from the Regional Contest. The costs of lodging and most meals during the tour will also be paid by Team funds. Other (extracurricular) expenses, such as souvenirs or entertainment, are not covered and are the responsibility of individual students.

What will I need to bring with me to the Contest?

Students should bring the following items:

  • Field clothes
  • Insect Repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof boots
  • Pencils
  • Camera
  • Money for extracurricular expenses

Other items, particularly all necessary field equipment (shovels, augers, color books, clip boards, etc.) will be provided by the Division of Plant and Soil Science.