All About the Dirt

 Bonanza FFA members show off their banners following the awards ceremony at the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE Oct. 3. The chapter placed first as a team in the beginning and advanced contests.

Bonanza FFA members show off their banners following the awards ceremony at the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE Oct. 3. The chapter placed first as a team in the beginning and advanced contests.

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.”

Official results:

Advanced Teams

  1. Bonanza

  2. Rogue River

  3. Lost River

  4. Phoenix

Advanced Individuals

  1. Laura Howard, Rogue River

  2. Michael Baker-Bair, Lost River

  3. Jean Herrara, Bonanza

  4. Barbara Velik, Bonanza

  5. Gabe Tambellini, Rogue River

  6. Grace Lee, Bonanza

  7. Morgan Pitcock, Bonanza

  8. Abby Orella, Bonanza

  9. Breanna Mestes, Bonanza

  10. Savanna Jennings, Bonanza

Beginning Teams

  1. Bonanza

  2. Lost River

  3. Rogue River

  4. Henley

Beginning Individual

  1. Wyatt Stillwagner, Rogue River

  2. Sydney Shaw, Henley

  3. Wyatt Lacy, Lost River

  4. Jaycie Schooler, Bonanza

  5. Seth Jennings, Bonanza

  6. Kailyn Nicholas, Bonanza

  7. Caden Halousek, Lost River

  8. Curtis Sweat, Lost River

  9. Lylah Braga, Rogue River

Press release provided from the Klamath County School District.

 Bonanza FFA members Erik Petersen, Morgan Pitcock, Kailyn Nichols and Barbara Velik extract soil samples from each horizon at the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE.

Bonanza FFA members Erik Petersen, Morgan Pitcock, Kailyn Nichols and Barbara Velik extract soil samples from each horizon at the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE.

 Jean Herrera, Bonanza FFA member, textures her soil samples during the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE.

Jean Herrera, Bonanza FFA member, textures her soil samples during the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE.

 Bonanza FFA members show off their banners following the awards ceremony at the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE Oct. 3. The chapter placed first as a team in the beginning and advanced contests.

Bonanza FFA members show off their banners following the awards ceremony at the Southern Oregon District Soils Evaluation CDE Oct. 3. The chapter placed first as a team in the beginning and advanced contests.