'Soil your undies' to test the quality of your soil
Burying your underwear tests for organic matter
The Soil Conservation Council of Canada is encouraging people to bury their underwear in the garden.
This comes as part of national soil conservation week and the Soil Your Undies Campaign.
The campaign is based on a scientifically recognized test that was developed by one of the council's member organizations in Ontario.
They found that by burying undyed 100 per cent cotton underwear for two months, farmers and gardeners will get a good indication of how much organic matter exists in their soil.
Bury your briefs
Kier Miller, director of the council in Eastern Canada, attributes the idea for the Soil Your Undies campaign to the Ontario group.
He says that national soil conservation week is usually "a boring, quiet affair," and the council wanted to change that.
"We're trying to create awareness in the general public," he says.
"That's the ultimate goal, is to bring awareness to soil conservation."
'Just like a steak'
According to Miller, a grain and oilseed farmer, earthworms and microscopic organisms make up the biological life in soil.
If there is a good amount of organic matter in the earth, after the underwear is underground for two months all that should be left is the waistband.
If they come out intact it means the soil doesn't have much life.
"The cotton itself is an organic material," he says. "So it's just like a steak to them."
Increasing organic matter
If the soil is lacking in biological life, Miller says it is usually because of overuse.
He suggested planting cover crops for the protection and enrichment of the soil.
"When a plant grows in the soil we see the top part of it," he says.
"There's roots underground and that is organic matter, so that organic matter is food for whatever biological life that is in the soil."
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With files from Laura Chapin