scratch The Bruchhausen Nature Conservation has started a long-term project for the second time today. It’s about soil health.
“Proof of Underwear” is an apt title intended to mislead. And when people gather at the Bruchhausen Nature Conservation Center Thursday at 5 p.m. to bury organic underwear, it seems to make things even more slippery. It’s not worth being silly or rude at this point. Because the “Fair-Graben” project has already started in the second round at the Bruchhausen Nature Conservation Center – across the border and with its origins in serious Switzerland.
Simona Grothcast, educator and worker at the Center for Conservation, explains what will happen: “Like last year, we will bury our organic cotton underwear again and observe how it decomposes by the action of soil organisms in different soils.” Depending on the condition of the underwear, which was initially buried and then discovered, statements can be made about the health of the soil.
This is the idea that researchers from the Institute of Plants and Microbiology of the University of Zurich and the Swiss Agricultural Research Institute Agroscope have come up with. Like many basic scientists, they had a lot of ideas but little money. Therefore, lay people interested in the search for soil, “citizen science” should be involved. This requires raw materials available all over the world of the same quality.
These are briefs and tea bags from a specific international brand. It was buried and left in the ground for two months. Then citizen scientists dig up their evidence again. Tea bags are weighed. There is now a globally standardized ‘teabag index’ which can also be used to determine soil quality and compare regions and continents.
The Swiss website says the following about Underwear Used in Science: “Apart from the waistband and seams, our test pants are made of 100 percent biodegradable, organic cotton. This material can serve as a food source for many soil microorganisms. They eat underwear with a voracious hunger. The more active microorganisms live in the soil, the faster and more fully the underwear will be devoured.”
The condition of the floor can be determined by the degree of deterioration of the textiles. Simona Grothkast: “In running a project this year, we are not working alone. We are starting the project with other institutions, schools and day care centers.” Erkrathers also collaborates with two other environmental centers in North Rhine-Westphalia – Maximilian Park in Hamm and LIZ in Möhnesee. In total, “Guide to Shorts” collects 20 institutions.
The common goal is to “make people more aware of the soil issue again”. What we step on every day is the foundation of life, the living space, the food source, and the climate shield at the same time. All this should be demonstrated by the long-term programme. The knowledge gained by burying underwear and tea bags should be accessible to all.
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