DIY Dirt-y Underwear Soil Analysis

Soil Analysis Heading

Now, who says gardening can’t be fun – when you can use cotton boxers to diagnose the nutrients in your soil?  The Soil Conservation Council of Canada is conducting a fun campaign.  They are asking you to “plant” a pair of 100% men’s cotton underwear in the ground about six inches and leave them for two months. When you dig them up – the results will help you to analyze the health of up your soil.  Say what?  Yes, according to Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist, science makes this work.  Why? Well, soil microorganisms require carbon to survive. Apparently, cotton briefs contain high quantities of yummy carbon that soil microorganisms love to gobble up.

When the briefs (wonder why just men’s briefs work?) are dug up, the level of decomposition can tell you how how many organisms have been eating the briefs.  The more they have eaten, the healthier your soil is.

Several extension services have conducted this experiment.  South Dakota State University Extension and Clemson and North Carolina Extension have more detailed data on their results, if you want to study the science in detail.

To conduct this experiment yourself, you will need a new pair of 100% white cotton briefs, a shovel and a marker flag. The steps are simple:

  1. First, dig a narrow trench about six inches deep
  2. Bury the underwear in the trench, leaving a little bit of the waistband out to mark the location
  3. Mark the place with a flag so you can easily find it
  4. Leave briefs buried about two months
  5. Dig up carefully and determine level of decomposition

OK – seriously, who isn’t going to go out a get a pair of briefs and try this?  If you do the experiment, be sure to let me know how it goes!!!!