Oregon Farmers Launch ‘Soil Your Undies’ Challenge to Promote Soil Health Awareness

By Trish Svoboda

In December 2018, Oregon farmers created the “Soil Your Undies” challenge, which has since been accepted by over 100 Oregon farmers, ranchers, and others who are interested in agriculture. Farmers in Oregon collaborated with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and NRCS, as a fun way to pique the public’s interest in soil health.

You don’t need to be in Oregon to participate, just a new pair of cotton undies. The challenge consists of planting a new pair of underwear about 3 inches deep, waiting for 60 days, and digging them back up to see how deteriorated they are. The more deteriorated, the healthier the soil.

The USDA says healthy soil contains billions of microbes that break down the cotton. One teaspoon of healthy soil contains more microbes than there are people on Earth. These microbes not only consume organic matter like cotton, but they also help soil resist erosion, cycle nutrients, and retain water.

To help keep your soil healthy, the USDA offers these tips to take care of microbes:

1. Avoid soil disturbance wherever and whenever possible.

2. Maximize soil cover with living plants and residue.

3. Maximize biodiversity by growing a variety of plants and managed integration of livestock.

4. Maximize living roots in the soil throughout the year.

You can find more information on the “Soil Your Undies” challenge here.

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