Farmers urged to bury their underpants to improve quality of their beef
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.
Soil conditions on beef and sheep farms directly influence how well grass and forage crops grow and, consequently, the quality of the feed they produce. And better feed produces healthier, tastier animals.
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.
"The results were very interesting. We have quite a wet field here and obviously that has been starved of oxygen and the underpants were hardly touched.
"However, with our arable fields, which are cultivated heavily, they were eaten away, but we do cover them with a lot of muck. It was a success and a simple and cheap way of testing soil.
"The cotton is the important thing, rather than the underpants."
The ‘Soil my Undies’ challenge was first launched by the California Farmers’ Guild in July and is slowly being adopted by agricultural organisations across the world.
Healthy soil should be teeming with millions of tiny lifeforms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, arthropods, earthworms, which all work to turn rotting material into nutrients to help plants thrive.
Evan Wiig, Executive Director of the California Farmers’ Guild, said: “Cotton is an organic material and breaks down naturally just like anything else you’d put in your compost pile. So if you bury cotton in soil teeming with life, all those creatures will begin to feast.
“If you have dead soil, if it is totally lifeless you should be able to pull the pants out of the ground, throw it in the washing machine and put them on like nothing ever happened. If you have incredibly healthy soil, you should have nothing left but an elastic strap.”
A spokesman for the QMS said they would like farmers across Britain to adopt the test as way of checking the productivity of their soil.
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