Cotton briefs will be distributed to those interested in participating in the experiment, officials told reporters in Zurich. Farmers and amateur gardeners are particularly targeted.
The objective is to make a systematic statement of the state of health of the soil. This is the largest project of its kind in Switzerland to date, according to Agroscope. The first 1000 registrants will receive a package containing two cotton briefs to bury with six tea bags. For others interested, instructions will be made available explaining how to perform the tests yourself.
The material should be buried in the field, meadow or garden. After two months, it must be dug up. The more advanced the decomposition, the more active the living organisms in the soil are and the healthier the soil is, at least this is the hypothesis that needs to be verified in the project.
Briefs have already been used for several years by farmers as an indicator of soil health. “But so far no one has verified that this method also meets scientific standards,” explains project director Marcel van der Heijden, ecologist at Agroscope and the University of Zurich.
A comparison will be made with the tea bag method, or “Tea Bag Index”, well established in soil research. We know how long it takes for different types of tea to decompose. The decomposed briefs will be photographed and evaluated digitally. Volunteers will also take a soil sample.
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