Soil your undies

The Soil your Undies Otago research programme aimed to understand and measure the health of rural soils by burying cotton.

Soil your undies banner with hole in ground and cotton undies

B+LNZ is a partner in the Soil your Undies Otago research programme which aims to understand and measure the health of rural soils using simple biological indicators (earthworms, dung beetles and cotton undies) to build a map of soil health for the area.

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

The Soil Your Undies research programme aims to understand and measure soil health by burying cotton undies (or anything cotton) and leaving it for two months before digging it up again. Ideally, the cotton should be chewed and threadbare after being exposed to the soil’s micro-organisms, worms, dung beetles and other biological indicators. The worse the deterioration, the better the soil health.

One of B+LNZ's top priorities is enhancing our environmental position to strengthen farmers’ reputation in New Zealand and globally. This research supports our strategy and links with B+LNZ's Catchment Community Programme. Understanding our soil health is fundamental to understanding our natural resource, catchments and businesses. Read more about B+LNZ's Catchment Community Programme here

Organisations involved: Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the East Otago Catchment Group, North Otago Land Management Group (NOSLAM), EnviroSchools Otago, AgResearch, Otago University scientists, Dung Beetle Innovations and the Science Learning Hub.

How to soil your undies?

The cotton strip (undies) test and earthworm counts are biological indicators of the health of soil.