Soil Judging in Iowa-Welcome

Amber Anderson; Lee Burras; Rich Pope; and Gerald Miller

Soils are a valuable resource to the state, whether used for agriculture or providing suitable locations for human infrastructure; the state’s population and economy depend upon them. Nearly all of Iowa’s soils are significantly changed from their pre-settlement condition, which requires a change in how we think about them and manage them into the future.

As the understanding of soils continues to improve, practices across the state will likely continue to require modifications to preserve soil resources. In addition, intense rainfall events and resulting floods are among many factors affecting the landscape’s human infrastructure. Evaluating and understanding basic properties of a soil allows one to make the best decision about land use and management.

Soil judging consists of evaluating properties of a soil and interpreting these evaluations into recommendations for land use. This resource is intended to serve as a guide for making these evaluations and interpretations. The accompanying scorecard provides space for recording both the choices made and the scores earned by the contestants in soil judging contests.

Anyone using land soon notices the differences and develops some means of understanding their soil in order to adapt land use and management to soil properties and characteristics. Soil judging has therefore been taking place for as long as civilization has been using land.

Improved techniques for soil judging have developed along with the science of soil classification, mostly during the past 100 years. The procedures outlined in this book are modern versions of these techniques held to a simple form for use in soil judging contests.


Amber-ISU soil coach and a host of the State soil judging contest hopes you enjoy soils as much as she does and looks forward to seeing many of you at contest in the fall-good luck to any competing teams!


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Soil Judging in Iowa Copyright © 2023 by Amber Anderson; Lee Burras; Rich Pope; and Gerald Miller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.