Friday, November 3, 2017

Because . . . um . . . science???


I'm still trying to decide whether this is a belated April Fool joke, or a real news report.

Burying a pair of underpants in a field may not seem the obvious starting point for the perfect roast, but farmers are being urged to dig deep for tastier meat.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) claim interring a pair of cotton smalls in a pasture can reveal vital information about soil fertility.

According to the experts, sterile and lifeless soil will keep underwear intact, but organically thriving soil will eat away at the briefs, leaving nothing but the elastic waistband.

Dig up the pants after just two months, and it is possible to judge how healthy the land is.

. . .

Scottish farmer Iain Green, of Corskie Farm, near Elgin, in Moray, has been burying his pants in various fields since September.

"The theory behind the test is that the cotton will be devoured by the microbes and bacteria in the soil, so the more you have the better,” he said.

"We buried them in different fields, some which we think have healthier soil and others which aren't as good."

Earlier this week fellow farmers and officials gathered at Mr Green’s farm to dig up his underpants and analyse the findings. Some had entirely disintegrated while others looked like they had been recently buried.

Mr Green added: "I think quite a few of them were quite surprised and are away to try it for themselves.

There's more at the link.

Hmmm . . .
  • I presume there's a different decomposition rate between various materials.  Is there a "cotton decomposition index" of some sort, to compare with a "wool decomposition index" or a "flannel decomposition index", to obtain accurate comparisons between them?
  • I presume the origin of the underwear also has a bearing.  Would one use Chinese-made underwear to research a rice paddy, but American Carhartts to check a cow pasture?
  • What about farmers' religious beliefs?  Is it licit to use (say) a Mormon temple garment as a test item?  Does a Catholic codpiece out-perform (so to speak) a Dervish diaper?
  • How deep should the underwear be buried?  Too shallow, and it might get grazed, which might be bad for animal digestion.  (Can underwear be ruminated?)  Too deep, and it might find itself in the real nether regions!  What depth for optimum decomposition?
  • Can (and should) the underwear be re-used for its original purpose (after laundering, of course!) if it doesn't decompose?
These questions, and many others, are very important - because SCIENCE!!!

(Of course, since the article concludes by informing us that "The ‘Soil my Undies’ challenge was first launched by the California Farmers’ Guild in July", we might conclude that it's not so much "science" as "Californians being Californians" . . . )




Peter

10 comments:

phil said...

My grandfather would taste the soil to see if it was 'sweet'. Was he doing it a--backwards?

Aesop said...

Problem with that last is that, by all web evidence, there is no such thing as the "California Farmers Guild".

There are apparently several local "Farmers Guilds" in the state of CA (all cleverly located in Blue Leftard bastion counties, TYVM) but a cursory look shows them to be naught but overwhelmingly transplanted leftist community-organizing idiots from Somewhere Else running backyard yuppie hobby farms, Useful Idiot young communists striving for social justice and sustainable tofu cakes for everyone rather than serious students of farming anything but their own unearned moral superiority.
QED

(Don't take my word either, see for yourself:
http://www.farmersguild.org/about-the-farmers-guild.html)

Which leftist nonsense sounds like exactly the sort of thing that would appeal to some git from the People's Republic of Scotland.

The best use of the idea expressed would indeed be to bury cotton underpants in a field to determine its yield.
Ideally, with the idiot owners of the trews still inside them for the duration of the interment.

I'll let you know how it works. I'm figuring if they stay buried for two weeks, my yields will be fine, albeit greener over the underpants. Whereas if they somehow claw their way to freedom before that time, the level of leftist busybody-ness applied to agricultural undertakings (you should forgive the inadvertent pun) will be too obnoxious to make the game of agriculture worth the candle to play in any of the afflicted counties.

KJ said...

Really any organic based cloth will work as long as you use the same kind. Cotton is a favorite because there is lots of it. Old T-shirts, towels, etc.

Good soil bacteria and fungus levels will break it down in a shorter time. Although if you have been paying attention to your land at all it should be easy enough to just take a spade full of soil and look at it.

The reason some folks like to use underwear is that it makes for a fun article title and also because you should be able to see just the elastic parts left which makes a good visual when it's dug back up. An old cotton T-shirt on the other hand will be completely gone which is hard to photograph.

stencil said...

Wouldn't it be just as effective to plant a few seeds?

Rob said...

Basic cotton underwear & does it break down completely in a couple of months.
A cheap & simple test on your soil, not a bad thing at all.

Obviously easy to make fun of but it's still a cheap and easy test.

Anonymous said...

Will skid marks make the undies decompose quicker or slower?

WL Emery said...

Bury a pair of Glen Filthie's shorts in a field and the EPA will bust you on pollution violations complete with a HazMat specification.

Cedar said...

The rate at which cotton breaks down in soil is indeed a scientific marker - in this case, to study the activity of insects in soil. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00374-002-0575-0

Cedar said...

And if you're really interested, the cotton strip assay is delineated in some detail in this book! http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/4949/1/24%2520-%2520Cotton%2520Strip.pdf

Joseph Bridges said...

This has to rank as one of the dumbest ideas I've heard of in many years...

Last time I had any occasion to be at all interested was some years ago - but I seriously doubt matters have changed all that much since - so...here goes: In every county I've ever lived in in the U.S., there has been access to some sort of soil-testing service, generally operated by either a County- or State-affiliated Agricultural service. If you want to know what your soil is like - various fractional-compositional content, suitability for planting/growing, general moisture content, etc. - bag-up some samples (some zip-lock plastic sandwich baggies will work fine, and a few ounces per sample should be more than adequate) and deliver them to same for analysis. In most cases, there probably won't even be much (if any) charged for the service, as long as you don't over-do it.

I won't even comment on the whole "California" thing...