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Soil Your Undies

The Soil Your Undies Challenge


An Oregon-grown campaign to raise public interest in soil health

Since this campaign launched in December of 2018, more than 100 Oregon farmers, ranchers and other agricultural enthusiasts have stepped up to the challenge. The "Soil Your Undies" challenge was created by Oregon farmers, working with their local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and NRCS, as a fun way to build public interest in soil health.

The NRCS Oregon Soil Health Committee capitalized on what farmers and SWCDs were doing and gave "Soil Your Undies" a visual brand to expand the reach of this campaign, through developing custom graphics, handouts, and informational materials to recruit new challengers. The campaign also includes media outreach to local newspapers, radio and TV stations across Oregon's agricultural communities, as well as special events with farmers and ranchers.

For more information about the campaign, or to request graphics and handouts to launch a "Soil Your Undies" campaign in your community, please contact the Oregon NRCS public affairs staff at orinfo@nrcs.usda.gov or call the Oregon State Office at 503-414-3220.

Alan Klages with undies harvest waistband harvested Monument School undies harvest

How Healthy is Your Soil? Take the Challenge to Find Out!

Chewed-up, ripped, torn, threadbare, riddled with holes, completely, utterly soiled--the undies in Oregon's farm country are falling to pieces. And that's just the way farmers like it.

Whether you're on crop, range or forestland, the quick and dirty way to test your soil health is by "planting" a pair of new, cotton underwear in the site you're curious about. Wait at least 60 days, then dig them back up. The more the undies are deteriorated, the healthier your soil.

  1. Plant a pair of new, cotton underwear horizontally about 3 inches deep in the site you're curious about. Don't forget to mark the spot you planted!
     
  2. Wait at least 60 days. This gives your soil microbes time to do their magic! Then dig the undies back up.
     
  3. Share your results by sending us a photo of your "harvest" and a little info about your operation to orinfo@nrcs.usda.gov.

Download this handy info card to keep your challenge on track.

We'll put your undies on the map, literally! Submissions will be included on our Soil Your Undies Challenge Tracker so you can show your neighbors and other Oregon producers just how healthy your soil is.


Microbial Action

Your undies won't break down in just any soil. Healthy soil contains billions of microbes that consume the cotton. In fact, one teaspoon of healthy soil contains more microbes than there are people on the planet. In addition to chowing down on organic matter like cotton, they also help soil resist erosion, cycle nutrients, and store water.

If you're a farmer, soil microbes are your best friends.

The hungry microbes in your soil need food, shelter, and variety in order to thrive, just like us! You can take care of your microbial friends by following these four steps:

  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.

 

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