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Using tighty-whities to determine soil fertility

 
master steward
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I'm not joking! They did a study using white cotton underwear burred in various fields. The theory is, the faster the underwear deteriorated, the better the soil microbs and healthier the soil.



http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-41843852?ocid=socialflow_facebook&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=facebook

Of course, one could do the test with any type of cotton. But, it's far funnier to think about "soiling your pants" :D
 
pollinator
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Knickers to that

David
 
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I think scientifically there may be better ways to test for soil fertility, but I think it is one of the best ways I have ever heard to stir the pot on the topic of soil health for the general public. So yes I love the concept!!

This summer at the Maine Farm Days show, the NRCS had a big pit dug to show the kids what soil health was all about, and the attendant was almost bored to death from no one approaching his demonstration area. It was away from the main tents for safety reasons, but it just showed me few people were interested.
 
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Nicole that's great!! I love it!
 
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Great way to see if the microbiome is healthy.

I've been to two farm shows in the past year and it is rather amazing how few people want to learn about soil health, they seem to think that if they are using fertilizers they have healthy soil.
 
David Livingston
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I loved the way the cows lined up to pose as well

David
 
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I'm thinking what's left of the US Environmental Protection Agency could use the polyester version to test the remediating microbes at their superfund clean-up sites!


 
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I saw this article too, totaly clickbait had to read it! I might have a go with it next spring, no point now, ground is about to freeze. I suspect I'll use an old teatowl though.
 
pollinator
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Skandi Rogers wrote:I saw this article too, totaly clickbait had to read it! I might have a go with it next spring, no point now, ground is about to freeze. I suspect I'll use an old teatowl though.



Doesn't count, you have to use undies.  Even if it forces you to go commando from this point on.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Todd Parr wrote:

Skandi Rogers wrote:I saw this article too, totaly clickbait had to read it! I might have a go with it next spring, no point now, ground is about to freeze. I suspect I'll use an old teatowl though.



Doesn't count, you have to use undies.  Even if it forces you to go commando from this point on.



Oh my goodness, I laughed so hard!!!
 
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A few times when emptying our girls' composting toilets at the school, we've found the remains of underwear. Just the elastic waist, and a jumble of thin nylon threads, as the cotton had decomposed.

Love the clickbait idea to attract people to thinking about the power of the composting process!
 
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The post & article get my "like". πŸ‘

Thanks Nicole, I'll share the link around with my homesteader friends.
 
pollinator
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Very funny. And probably a testament to how NOT healthy our soil biome is, because I am still occasionally digging up scraps of clothes that were dumped here long before we took over the farm.  But then again, maybe they aren't cotton.  Here termites will eat through any cotton left on the ground before the other soil critters can munch.
 
pollinator
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Yes, I can attest to this personally.

The property before the one I own now was a super composter.  After about 9 or so years of developing the soil I could bury a turkey carcass just 3 or 4 inches below the surface, put a rock on it, and a month later it was just rich black earth.  Junk mail and cotton clothing took about 2 months but was still pretty good to plant right on top of pretty quickly.

On my current property - all sand - I have an approximately 250 gallon 'pen' made of chicken wire.  In goes all kitchen scraps, dried leaves, and just recently a 5 gallon bucket of fresh pig shit.  The plants around the base of the pen are looking fabulous and the worms that I find there look like they are on steroids.

I occasionally take some of those worms and move them to other areas of the yard.

I never turn the pile but will move it from time to time so it can create a new fertile section of soil.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:...This summer at the Maine Farm Days show, the NRCS had a big pit dug to show the kids what soil health was all about, and the attendant was almost bored to death from no one approaching his demonstration area. It was away from the main tents for safety reasons, but it just showed me few people were interested.



I wonder if he could have drawn more people in by standing (or kneeling) *in* the pit, and - I dunno, exclaiming "Look what I found!"? Or some equivalent...

Maybe dressing in a costume that was one side dead-soil plants, one side living-soil plants? There's a lotta competition for attention out there, sometimes you have to get creative.
 
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work - Edison. Tiny ad:
dry stack retaining wall
https://permies.com/t/85178/dry-stack-retaining-wall
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