Bonanza, Henley, Lost River compete in Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation contest
A couple of years ago, the softball field at Bonanza Junior-Senior High School had issues with standing water because the field wasn’t draining well.
So Morgan Pitcock and her fellow Bonanza FFA classmates determined why. The soil was clay and therefore held too much water. Last winter, they added sand to the soil and put in a drainage system. It solved the problem.
Pitcock and other FFA members recalled the softball field drainage issues after competing Oct. 3 in the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE south of Merrill.
“You can actually apply real life problems and find solutions,” said Barbara Velik, a senior and Bonanza FFA member.
Velik and Pitcock were among 70 FFA contestants from Henley, Bonanza, Lost River, Rogue River and Phoenix high schools who judged three different soil samples at the district competition to determine their qualities. The Bonanza team placed first in both the advanced and beginning contests.
The state competition is Oct. 15 in Union County.
Three pits were dug on fallowed ground at Tim Paschke’s ranch off Stateline Road south of Merrill. In the days before, two soil scientists from the National Resource Conservation Service “did officials on the pits,” meaning they judged the soil and provided their answers for comparison to student answers in the contest.
Students are doing the same job as a soil scientist, judging and recording the consistency and texture of the soil so a farmer can determine what to plant and how to amend the soil, if needed, said Meghan Miller, agriculture science teacher and FFA advisor at Lost River Junior-Senior High School.
“The key is to determine the best use of the land,” she said.
Pitcock has been in FFA since her eighth-grade year. Velik since she was a seventh-grader.
“You feel the texture so you know where to plant your crops,” Pitcock explained. “It’s very important. You can’t grow alfalfa in clay, and if the soil is sandy, you have to water it more.”
Velik added, “The smarter you are about soil, the better your crops will grow.”
Laura Howard, Rogue River
Michael Baker-Bair, Lost River
Jean Herrara, Bonanza
Barbara Velik, Bonanza
Gabe Tambellini, Rogue River
Grace Lee, Bonanza
Morgan Pitcock, Bonanza
Abby Orella, Bonanza
Breanna Mestes, Bonanza
Savanna Jennings, Bonanza
Wyatt Stillwagner, Rogue River
Sydney Shaw, Henley
Wyatt Lacy, Lost River
Jaycie Schooler, Bonanza
Seth Jennings, Bonanza
Kailyn Nicholas, Bonanza
Caden Halousek, Lost River
Curtis Sweat, Lost River
Lylah Braga, Rogue River
Press release provided from the Klamath County School District.