Farmers across North America have taken to planting their underwear. But why?
Like many movements do, the Soil Your Undies Challenge was started in California. The Farmers Guild came up with the idea to show the impact and importance of healthy soil.
Healthy soil is vital to farmers everywhere. That’s why they are constantly utilizing new techniques and technologies to improve their fields.
Soil tests are sometimes conducted to determine soil health. They can determine nutrient content, composition and other soil characteristics like pH level. Some nutrients soil tests specifically look for include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, copper, boron, aluminum and lead. They also identify the amount of organic matter in the soil — materials containing carbon. Soil tests can alert farms to a number of deficiencies and they give farmers the knowledge they need to adjust management practices accordingly. But they can be a little complicated.
To make soil testing simpler, looking for a simple confirmation of healthy or unhealthy, farmers have turned to burying their underwear. Healthy soil contains organic matter, and as a result, it also houses organisms that eat organic matter — bacteria, earthworms, fungi, etc. Turns out these guys also like cotton underwear. In just two months, cotton underwear buried in healthy soil will be completely eaten through, leaving behind little but an elastic waistband.
How to participate in the Soil Your Undies Challenge
- Buy a pair of 100 percent cotton underwear. White briefs have been the most popular garment, but the shape is not as important as the fabric.
- Bury the underwear somewhere on your farm. A field, pasture or garden would be ideal.
- Either leave the waistband exposed or mark the location of the underwear so you can find them later.
- Dig up the underwear and document the changes.
- Share your results with Farm and Dairy!
Pro tip: You can test multiple locations or compare pastures by repeating the above steps for multiple pairs of underwear.
Farm organizations throughout North America are participating in the #SoilYourUndies challenge. If you’d like to participate, follow the steps above and share your pictures with us. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram — @farmanddairy for all three.
First time doing #soilyourundies in Pennsylvania. Long term no-till vs. conventional. You decide which is which @Anne_Verhallen @woody_VA @blake_vince #soilhealth @SoilNetwork @soilcouncil pic.twitter.com/fHGv4mo23v
— Claire Coombs 🍁 (@c_coombs) June 21, 2018
— Carolyn is writing (@mcarolyn) June 26, 2018
— Kristy Boutilier (@BoutilierKristy) June 30, 2018
Thank you to the Tatamagouche Tim Hortons Children’s Camp for helping us soil more undies in the name of soil conservation today! @THCF1974 @soilcouncil @StanfieldsLtd #soilyourundies pic.twitter.com/5qQxeSRdq6
— Dal Ag Campus (@dalagriculture) June 26, 2018