LIAT’s Senior Lecturer and soil scientist, Dr Iain Gould, has recently carried out a soil health test using the humble cotton brief. 

Dr Gould’s experiment involved burying three separate pairs of 100% cotton underpants in three different environments at the Riseholme Campus; woodland, grassland and arable field.

Once buried, the underpants were left for two months before being dug up to view the results.

As the experiment is a simple visual indicator, Dr Gould was able to identify which out of the three locations on site held the healthiest soil. The level of active microbes in the soil was evidenced by how much of the underpants had been ‘eaten’ by the soil.

This simple test can be used to reveal the health of soil, providing the opportunity to increase soil structure and biology.

The results from Dr Gould’s test can be seen below – can you guess which pair of underpants was buried in which location?

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Undertake the soil health test yourself:

  1. Use 100% pure cotton briefs (no elasticised waistband)
  2. Dig a reasonable sized hole approx six inches deep
  3. Lay underpants flat, then cover fully with earth
  4. Use a marker to remember where they have been buried
  5. Dig up after two months and view the results!

You can upload a photo of your findings to Twitter, using #SoilYourUndies

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