By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN The name “Lester” as in Lester Prairie could soon be immortalized for the soil upon which the city is built, and which can be found on farms in the surrounding area.
Tuesday, the Minnesota House voted to name Lester soil the official state soil.
If approved by the governor, Lester soil would join 16 other state symbols, including the state bird (common loon); gemstone (Lake Superior agate); flower (pink and white lady slipper); the state tree (red or Norway pine), the state drink (milk); and the state muffin (blueberry).
Currently, 21 states in the US have official state soils, according to the Minnesota Association of Professional Soil Scientists (MAPSS).
The House and Senate approved the choice Tuesday as part of an omnibus agriculture bill. The bill was presented to Gov. Mark Dayton Wednesday, according to the non-partisan Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services.
According to MAPSS, Lester soil, which is named for its prevalence in the area around Lester Prairie, covers more than 500,000 acres and can be found in 17 counties in south-central Minnesota.
The soil, formed under alternating prairie and forest vegetation, is well-drained and loamy.
According to MAPSS, the surface layer is very dark grayish brown loam, and the subsurface layer is brown clay loam. The subsoil is dark yellowish brown clay loam, and the substratum is yellowish brown loam.
Principal crops grown in Lester soil are corn and soybeans.
The reason for considering an official state soil at this time, according to MAPSS, is to celebrate “a century of soil science at the University of Minnesota,” as well as the 40th anniversary of MAPSS.
It would also relate to the Smithsonian Soils Exhibit (Dig-it), which will be presented at the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota in November.
MAPSS was established in 1973, and promotes “the understanding and wise use of Minnesota’s soil resources.”
MAPSS members include professional soil scientists, consultants, researchers, teachers, students, and those who just have an interest in soils.