- Editor's Note -

Traveling to soils – both new and old

By Amanda Huber

Although there is much to talk about as we reach mid-to-late season, instead, I am going to play travel guide.

A news item that recently came to my inbox announced a new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Opening July 19, is a 5,000-square foot exhibit called “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil.”

The exhibit, which will be at the Smithsonian until 2010 and then travel to museums around the country until 2013, focuses on how soil impacts all life on earth and household goods. It will explain differences among soil types, featuring soil samples from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as a world map of soils.

“Dig It!” will examine the physical properties of soils via tumbler tubes containing sand, silt, clay and loam; color cards revealing mineral compositions; soil “breathalyzers” detecting carbon dioxide from organisms; and other interactive displays. Videos will explain soil’s role as a “secret ingredient” in medicines, food, wine, textiles, paint, cosmetics and pottery, as well as in supporting life and death.

Just the mention of soil makes me think of one of my favorite college professors, Dr. Rothchild, who taught, you guessed it, soil science. He certainly made soil exciting, and you quickly knew how important it was to both him and, essentially, the world. On day one, he made sure you knew to call it “soil,” and that calling it “dirt” was akin to calling it a dirty word, which would cost you 10 points off your next test. But he was right, and by the end of the class, we all knew that soil was life itself.

Although I don’t have any plans to go to Washington, D.C. in the near future, I will be putting my feet on both new soil and very familiar soil several times this summer. The first part of July, I will be on the familiar soil of Florida’s white sandy beaches for the Southern Peanut Growers Conference held in Panama City Beach. Then, for a trip on new soil, I will be traveling to Oklahoma for the American Peanut Research and Education Society meeting, plus trying to visit a few growers. New soil or old, I like to travel and visit with growers any time I can; they are truly my inspiration for what I love to do.

Whatever soil you have on your farm, I hope it is good to you this season. May it hold just the right amount of moisture, provide the nutrients the crop needs and, when digging time comes, may it give up a bountiful harvest with ease.