Determining soil health - by soiling your undies

By Dori Modney (@Dori_Modney on Twitter) with files from the Soil Conservation Council of Canada
April 9, 2018 - 4:48pm

LETHBRIDGE -  The Soil Conservation Council of Canada (SCCC) wants you to soil your undies in the name of soil conservation. But it isn't what initially comes to mind.
April 15th to the 21st is national Soil Conservation Week and the Society had such an excellent response to their 'soil your undies' program last year.  They've brought it back to encourage others to get involved.
It's an experiment that helps you to gauge the health of the soil on your land and all you have to do is bury a pair of tighty whities. 
The underwear must be 100 per cent white cotton briefs, which are buried in different areas on your farm or in your garden.  When you dig them up a couple months later, you'll be able to determine the health of your soil, by how much of the garment remains. If your soil is very healthy, there won't be much of the knickers left.
The Soil Conservation Council was reportedly blown away by the response to the national Soil Your Undies experiment last year.  Many farmers, schools, media, and organizations from various industries planted a pair of underwear in agricultural fields, flower beds, lawns and even at research facilities across the country to test for soil health. National Soil Conservation Week, which has been held during the third week of April for the past 30 years, extended far beyond its seven days last spring as folks buried undies well into the fall.
 In a news release, SCCC chair Alan Kruszel, says, "We take the task of advocating for Canada's soils seriously, but it was a lot of fun to show Canadians just how alive healthy soils are through this entertaining citizen science experiment, and we are eager to do it again."   
"Once again, Stanfield's is partnering with us on the Soil Your Undies initiative," says Kruszel. "We soiled many pairs of tighty whities from coast-to-coast last year and we are excited to bring the Canadian clothing company on board in 2018 as the official underwear sponsor yet again."

The Soil Your Undies test shows just how biologically active your soil is. After a couple months buried, there shouldn't be much left of your knickers if there is abundant life in your soil. To get started, all you need is a pair of new, 100 per cent cotton white briefs, a shovel, and a flag to mark the site. A helpful step-by-step guide on how to properly Soil Your Undies is available at

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