The underpants soil test is well-known around the world and is a simple yet effective way for farmers to examine the health of their soil.
Farmers get a pair of white cotton underpants, dig a hole about three inches deep, leave them there for two months and then dig them up again to see how much of the underpants are left.
Cotton, a carbon source, will be eaten by bugs and microbes, if they are present in the soil. So if the soil is healthy, then the underpants will be eaten by the microbes – if it is not healthy, then they are less likely to be eaten.
It is important that farmers carry out the test on different parts of their farm where management is different, for example grazing and silage swards or perennial ryegrass or multispecies swards.