Students to compete in land judging event Thursday

Published 6:10 pm Monday, November 12, 2012

Agriscience students in Chilton County will participate in a county land-judging competition this week designed to teach them how to read land and soil characteristics and diagnose potential problems.

The Land Career Development competition is set for Thursday, Nov. 15, but the time and exact location of the judging will not be revealed until the day before the event.

“The location is held secret until the day before to prevent anyone from having an advantage,” said Landon Lowery, agriscience instructor at Isabella High School.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture hosts the event to help students learn more about land, difference in soils and their capabilities, methods of soil conservation and improvement, treatments to help in obtaining higher production, and selection of suitable home sites.

County winners will be eligible to compete at the district level, and the top four winners in each district will compete in the state finals.

The chapter with the state champion team will represent Alabama in the International Land Judging Event in Oklahoma City, Okla., in the spring following the state event.

Second, third and fourth place teams in the state may be allowed to attend and participate in the national contest with state Department of Education approval and at their own expense.

“This event helps inform students so that we will not have a situation like the Dust Bowl to affect us in future generations,” Lowery said. “Good soil is one of the most vital resources we have. As an agriscience teacher, I feel that it is our obligation to teach students how to maintain the land and soil, because without healthy, abundant land and soil, we are unable to grow food at a rate that will maintain the human population.”

Another event that might help bring land and soil maintenance and conservation to the forefront of students’ minds is the airing of filmmaker Ken Burns’ newest documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” on Sunday, Nov. 18, and Monday, 19, at 7 p.m. on Alabama Public Television.

A public service announcement for the two-night, four-hour film described the Dust Bowl as “a manmade ecological disaster that swept the American Midwest” and “turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world.”

Although the storms of the Dust Bowl did not reach Alabama, the measures taken to prevent future tragedies had a major impact on the state’s agriculture, the announcement said.

“The Dust Bowl will show us the damage caused by the lack of conservation practices and encourage our society to make conservation of our natural resources a priority,” said Dr. Carol Knight, president of the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts.