Cereals: The Arable Event

Underwear burying craze at Cereals

11-May-2017 by: AHDB AHDB

Underwear burying craze at Cereals

This year, farmers from AHDB’s Monitor Farm programme have been burying their pants to help them find out about their soil health.

A simple visual experiment, once dug up the condition of the cotton underwear reveals the level of soil microbial activity and can be used to pinpoint ways to improve soil health.

Brian Barker and Russell McKenzie, Stowmarket and Huntingdon Monitor Farm hosts, will bring their findings (and their pants) to Cereals 2017 to feature in a debate held on the AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds stand.

At 11:30am on both days of the event Brian and Russell will lead farmers in soil health discussions based on their pants experiences.

The debate will discuss the effect of different establishment methods, worm numbers, cover crops and more. They will look at which field on the farm worked best and whether burying pants changed their management practices.

Tim Isaac, AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds Head of Knowledge Exchange, said: “Burying underwear sounds like a bit of fun, but it can also give us some serious messages about future-proofing our soils. It can reveal the state of our soil health and give us an insight into which tools we should develop across the farm to encourage soil biology and improve soil structure.”

Brian farms at Lodge Farm near Stowmarket and has hosted an AHDB Monitor Farm since 2014. He was one of the pioneers of pants-burying in the UK, having found out about a similar experiment in Ontario, Canada.

Brian buried his first set of pants in the autumn last year and has been repeating the experiment throughout the season.

He said: “Our soil is at the mercy of our tillage equipment. The over-winter plough field pants were virtually intact, compared to the over-winter cover crop field pants which were completely shredded.”

How to #soilmyundies

  1. Bury a pair of white 100% cotton briefs or boxers in the top six inches of soil.
  2. Leave the waistband showing and mark the location.
  3. To test the impact of soil type, rotation and management, repeat at several locations.
  4. After eight weeks, extract the underwear carefully and wash them in a bucket of water.
  5. Use the results to learn more about your farm’s soil health and share the results on Twitter, using the hashtag #soilmyundies

For more information or to book your place at the debate email teresa.meadows@ahdb.org.uk

The debate will be held from 11:30am on both days of the Cereals Event at AHDB stand 919. A hog roast will be served after the debate in the AHDB marquee.

Monitor Farms

AHDB Monitor Farms bring together groups of like-minded farmers who want to improve their businesses by sharing performance information and best practice around a nationwide network of host farms. AHDB organises and facilitates Monitor Farm meetings for farmers, who own and operate the scheme – by farmers, for farmers. Monitor Farms are part of the AHDB Farm Excellence Programme.

Other debates and updates

AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds is running a series of debates and updates at Cereals 2017 designed to promote informed and focused discussion on the hottest topics at Cereals.

In addition to this, soils guru Philip Wright will be manning AHDB’s soil pit throughout the event, looking at the impact of subsoiling on soil conditions.

For more details, visit cereals.ahdb.org.uk/cereals

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