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MEDIA RELEASE: Soil your undies this Soil Week



Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM) are asking land managers to soil their undies all in the name of soil health as part of Soil Week Australia (December 5 - 12).


Over the past couple of months TNRM have sent more than 30 pairs of 100% cotton underpants to participants across the Territory to bury in the top soil on their property, to be uncovered eight weeks later as part of the ‘Soil Your Undies’ challenge.


TNRM soil extension officer Jack Farthing said the level of degradation of the undies would provide a valuable insight into the level of microbiological activity occurring within the soil.

“The more decomposed the undies are, the greater the microbial activity in the soil,” Jack said.

“We would love to see nothing but the elastic strap remaining, but if someone digs up the undies in eight weeks and can brush them off and wear them again, it just means they’ll have to do a bit more work to encourage soil biology onto their patch.”


Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Emily Hinds said the challenge aimed to engage land managers across the industry to understand what goes on beneath the soil and the fundamentals of soil function and health.


“The biology of the soil has for many years been overlooked with chemical and physical soil characteristics taking the place of highest importance, and yet it is actually quite the opposite,” she said.


“Soil fauna, made up of fungi, bacteria, algae, right through to organisms such as nematodes, protozoa and worms, are all critical parts of the soil, enabling nutrient cycling, and improvements in soil structure.”


The team from TNRM will join several growers to dig up their cotton undies as part of World Soil Day on Monday, 5 December.


Local cattle producer Jeremy Trembath said he got involved in the project to see the level of biology in the soil and to help promote the issue of soil health.


“It all boils down to the biology of the soil, and ensuring you build and feed that soil,” he said. “Healthy soil promotes the growth of healthy forage and healthy cattle.”


With only the elastic straps and a 2cm2 square of cotton remaining, Jeremy is happy to see some of the soil building activities he has been undertaking are future-proofing his property.


“There was not much left of the pair we buried two months ago, which is great news,” he said. “This indicates we have a healthy level of microbial activity in our soil.”


This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare program. More information here


The idea for the Territory NRM ‘Soil Your Undies’ project stemmed from the University of New England, Dr Oliver Knox’s ‘Soil You Undies’ campaign in collaboration with CottonInfo Australia.


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