May 25, 2022

Crockett County, It Is Time to “Soil Your Undies”

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By: Tonya G. Bain

The Crockett County 4-H Program encourages youth to learn by doing, and our newest 4-H challenge is definitely one that does so in a fun and exciting way.  Held in conjunction with Crockett County Middle School science teachers, this challenge is destined to be packed with lots of laughter and learning.

In 2018, the national “Soil Your Undies” Challenge was launched by Oregon farmers as a fun way to raise public interest in soil health.  It is a new twist on testing soil for the presence of microbes by “planting” a pair of new cotton underwear. Underwear are planted horizontally about 3 inches deep. They stay planted for at least 60 days, giving soil microbes time to work their magic. At the end of the time frame, they are dug up. Chewed-up, torn, ripped, riddle with holes and utterly soiled is just what is wanted to indicate soils are alive with microbes (a definite plus, especially if you are a farmer or gardener).

Even though this is a national challenge, Tennessee was not represented on the challenge map. To solve that issue, the Crockett County 4-H program joined forces with CCMS teachers. We kicked off our study by planting 6 pairs of underwear around Alamo, including 2 pairs at the middle school. A video of the initial planting was sent to all CCMS students, making them aware of the activity.  The students were also challenged to “Soil Your Undies” at home. In late March, the underwear will be revealed to the students and hopefully show our soils are alive and healthy.

The Crockett County 4-H Program would love to encourage you to “Soil Your Undies” at home, and take part in this fascinating challenge. Follow the simple directions above and then share your results on the Crockett County Extension Facebook page by uploading a photo of your “harvest”, along with your town and harvest date! We will add it to our official list so we can get our undies on the national map!

For more information about this or other 4-H programs, please feel to contact the Crockett County Extension Office, 731-696-2412.

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