Global
Agriculture

Did You Know Healthy Soils Eat Underpants? 

A picture collage of soil and cotton clothing

Burying your cotton underwear can be used to measure soil health [1, 2, 3]. Soils contain billions of little workers (including: worms, bacteria, fungi & insects) which cooperate to decompose organic matter. Digging up buried cotton underpants several weeks later shows how active soil communities are. The more degraded the fabric, the healthier the soil is.

Soil health is critical for many things, including biodiversity, carbon sequestration, climate resilience, flood prevention, agricultural sustainability and productivity. This simple experiment illustrates how we can all learn about the hidden and fascinating universe below our feet [4].

A graphic picture of underwear being decomposed by microroganisms

Soil Your Undies - Educational video by Soil Conservation Council of Canada

[1] How hungry is your soil? Feed it some pants to find out! (thescottishfarmer.co.uk)

[2] Why you should plant some pants in your garden in France (connexionfrance.com)

[3] Underpants experiments are taking place in Australian paddocks and gardens (abc.net.au)

[4] Proof by underpants (University of Zurich - Department of Plant and Microbial Biology)