Munsell Color System; Color Matching from Munsell Color Company > Color & Science > Richard Ritter – Soil Judging Contest

Richard Ritter – Soil Judging Contest

Picture of soil next to a Munsell soil color chart used for identification.

Richard Ritter is the Gibson Southern FFA Advisor and Soil Judging Coach. He shares with us how the Munsell Soil Color Charts are used during the competition.

Soils Evaluation Career Development Event

The Indiana soils evaluation career development event is an educational contest sponsored by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. The state contest is held in late October, and attended by nearly 300 FFA and 4-H members annually. In addition, most of these young people attend county, area, and even invitational contests to prepare for the state. These events are commonly called soil judging contests.

During the contests, student must determine nine physical properties of the soil from each of four different sites. One of the properties is topsoil color. This is where the soil color charts are used. Most Indiana soils will match colors on the 10YR chart, so that is the official chart used by the judges. The colors 3/3 and darker are considered “dark,” while 41/ 4/2 5/1 5/2 etc. will be scored as “gray.” The brownish category includes all others with values and chromes of 3 or more.

Applications for the Munsell Soil Color Chart

Topsoil color is important in selecting management practices for fields as well as potential home sites. Recommended nitrogen rates, for example, are higher for dark colored soils. Soils which are dark do not generally need as many amendments for make good lawns and planting beds. Soil color is also used to indicate the natural soil drainage. Gray colors in certain diagnostic zones in the subsoil will indicate restricted drainage, and therefore the recommendation for artificial drainage can be made.

More information about the soil judging career development event can be found at:

Photo of Richard Ritter, coach for collegiate soil judging contest.

Richard Ritter

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