Innovative soil research project underway in Otago

// Soils

The Soil Your Undies Otago research project has kicked off, asking participants to ‘soil’ undies.

iimage of combined image

The Soil your Undies Otago research project aims to understand and measure the health of rural soils by doing earthworm counts and burying cotton strips.  The project will also look at dung beetle’s role as ecosystem engineers.

School students in the North Otago and East Otago region will research soil types in their local area. They will  bury 100% cotton underwear for a couple of months as a way of measuring soil health. The more threadbare the undies the more micro-organisms in the soil meaning the healthier the soil.

The science project will inform the schools and rural communities of their soils’ health and provide a basis for future sampling and strategies to improve soil and soil invertebrate communities.

One of the researchers leading the project, Eleanor Wright, says it’s about science extension and adoption.

“By using simple biological indicators such as earthworms, dung beetles and cotton undies, participants can build a map of soil health for their area.”

Richard Parkes, B+LNZ’s Environment Capability Manager says the research is a fun and interactive way to create a wider discussion about rural soil health while teaching people simple and effective ways of determining soil health.

The project finishes at the end of June 2021.

B+LNZ is proud to partner in the project alongside other partner organisations  including the East Otago Catchment Group, North Otago Land Management Group (NOSLAM), EnviroSchools Otago, AgResearch, Otago University scientists, Dung Beetle Innovations, Otago Regional Council Eco fund and the Science Learning Hub.

More information is available on B+NZ’s website at


For more information, please contact B+LNZ’s Communications Advisor Abigail Delaney on 027 209 9891.