WAYNE TOWNSHIP — The Darke Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) held itsannual land judging contest for Darke County FFA Chapters as they prepare for the District Contest. This year’s contest was held at Jim and Linda Rismiller’s farm off Streib Road northeast of Versailles. This year seven teams from four schools – Franklin Monroe, Greenville, Mississinawa Valley and Versailles – participated in the event.
The land judging contest consists of a rural and an urban test; this year teams only competed in the rural test. Significant changes were implemented at the 2015 contest to better prepare Darke County teams as they moved on to Districts. A few of the changes implemented on the rural test included a focus on soil health, nutrient management, best management practices and a more in-depth look at soil properties.
Each test challenges the students to not only identify soil types but also consider other soil characteristics when making recommendations for use of that area. The contest consisted of four stations, three soil pits and a written test. The students had 15 minutes to finish the test at each station. Upon completion of the contest, students were asked to hand in their answer keys before Darke SWCD staff would go over the answers and reasoning at each station.
This year Versailles Team No. 1 finished with the highest team score on the rural test, followed by Versailles Team No. 2 and Mississinawa Valley. The highest individual score was Dean Heitkamp from Versailles FFA. All participants and advisers from the top three teams will be invited and recognized at the 60th Annual Meeting and Banquet on Nov. 23.
“Darke SWCD would like to thank the Rismillers for graciously hosting this year’s competition, George Skidmore and Tim Rank for their evaluation of the soil pits, Jeff Miller and Darke County Ditch Maintenance for digging the pits and all the schools for participating in the event. The participation and enthusiasm from the students and teachers is what makes this competition great,” said Jared Coppess, District Administrator for Darke SWCD.