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Burying underwear for two months reveals soil health; share your 'soiled underwear' photos using hashtag ClackSWCDBriefs

Join Molalla farmers and home gardeners who are burying cotton underwear to assess the biological activity in their soil and evaluate soil health.

Over the next two months, the 100 percent cotton briefs that are being buried across Clackamas County will be broken down by soil microbes. So, Molalla residents can take part by burying a pair to find out how healthy microbes are in the soil.

Then what?

After two months, the cotton briefs will be dug up. The more shredded and ragged-looking you find the briefs, the healthier the soil. If the briefs look a lot like they did when they were buried, then there is some work to be done to make the soil healthier.

COURTESY PHOTO: CSWCD - How soiled are your underwear? The clean, cotton underwear you buried, that is. After burying underwear for two months, underwear reveal the health of the soil.

How does this experiment work?

Healthy soil is full of bacteria, fungi, arthropods, protozoa, and earthworms. You see, the 100 percent cotton in the briefs is a food source for the microbes and other organisms in the soil. This is why after two months in the ground, the worse looking the briefs, the more biological activity you have in your soil. Biologically active soil is healthy soil.

Want to test your own soil?

Here is what you can do to join in the fun. Find a pair of 100% cotton underwear (undyed). Take a photo of your briefs for future comparison. Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep. This is the root zone where much of the soil biological activity occurs. Lay your briefs flat in the hole and cover with soil. Try to maintain soil moisture. If your soil dries out you will need to water periodically unless the area is irrigated.

After two months, dig up your briefs and compare them to the photo you took in the beginning.

Share your soil health results on social media by using the hashtag #ClackSWCDBriefs. Or send a photo to share on the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District Facebook page.

Why does soil health matter?

The increased popularity in home gardening and growing your own food has people thinking deeply about soil health. Farmers, too, have a vested interest in higher yields and healthier crops. Healthy soils are more productive which means your crops - be it a backyard garden or 80 acres of hazelnuts - will be healthier and produce higher yields. Healthy soil also requires less fertilizer, has better water infiltration, and improved water holding capacity. The result is reduced soil erosion and irrigation requirements.

There is an added bonus; healthy soil stores carbon. Be climate-friendly, improve your soil health.

For questions on improving your soil health, contact Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-210-6000.

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