Dalhousie University - Inspiring Minds


Undies don't lie: A "brief" study reveals soil health

- August 8, 2018

Digging up undies at Community Day. (Nick Pearce photo)
Digging up undies at Community Day. (Nick Pearce photo)

In April, the Agricultural Campus took part in the launch of the 2018 Soil Your Undies campaign, led by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada and sponsored by Stanfield’s Ltd.

As part of National Soil Conservation Week, several pairs of Stanfield’s 100 per cent cotton briefs were buried in the raised bed in the campus “Horseshoe” with help from local schools. The hope was that the underwear would decompose over the following months thanks to the hard work of the insects and microbes living in the soil.

Burying the undies back in April.

However, this would only happen if the soil is biologically active – an indicator of healthy soil. Upon retrieval in July, if the undies were still intact, the soil is lacking in biological life, usually from overuse.

On Thursday, July 19, as part of Community Day festivities, several pairs of the soiled undies were extracted – or rather, what was left of them. All pairs were revealed to have decomposed to some degree, with some pairs having only a waistband remaining. 

Clearly, soil organisms in this space had been very busy since April — good news for the borage and daisies currently growing in the bed.

Interested in trying it yourself? Join the campaign and bury a pair of undies to better understand the biological activity that goes on underground in your yard. You may be pleasantly surprised, or you may find you need change your gardening habits. Check out the hashtag #SoilYourUndies and see what others are finding, and for more information on soil conservation, please visit soilcc.ca


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