Soil Your Undies!

In March, cluster members took part in a project to explore soil biology and the impact of the biology on decomposition rates below ground. Taking to the fields, members buried huge pairs of white cotton underpants in different soil environments. The aim was to observe the effects of decomposition, comparing the impact on the material against the different environments.

Whilst the test was not scientific in nature, it threw up some interesting results! Alan Higgs, Farm Manager with FGS Agri buried a pair of Undies in both arable land and permanent grassland. After locating the Undies in May, Alan found a far greater level of degradation to the pair buried in grassland, demonstrating a good level of underground activity on the site.

From the study, our findings suggested that the grassland had higher concentration levels of fungi, bacteria and invertebrates, which leads to healthier crops and higher yield. Crops in these areas may be less susceptible to disease and require less chemical inputs, this being beneficial to both water quality and in reducing costs to farms. The project led to lively debate on inputs and soil health with discussions taking place on what members could do to enhance soil quality.

Meanwhile, on Green Farm, the Undies buried in clay soil showed a minimal level of degradation, despite this being land of zero input. This left cluster members thinking the Undies could have been worn again – if they could find anyone big enough to fit them!

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