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Scientists send 1000s of pairs of underwear to volunteers, who will bury them in their backyards

Scientists in Switzerland are sending thousands of pairs of white underwear to volunteers, who will bury them in their backyards. Researchers will later dig up and examine the soiled undies to determine the health of the soil that covered them – the holier the healthier, according to Science Focus.

From Science Focus:

"Apart from the waistband and the seams, our test pants are made from 100 per cent biodegradable organic cotton," reads the project's public website. "This substance can serve as a food source for various microorganisms in the soil. They eat the underpants with ravenous hunger. The more active microorganisms live in the soil, the faster and the more holistically the underpants will be eaten up."

Each volunteer will receive two pairs of pants. One will be dug up after a month, the other after two months. They'll be analysed for holes to determine the health of what the researchers call "the jungle beneath our feet". Volunteers and scientists will also analyse teabags buried at the same time as a control, as well as DNA from the surrounding soil to determine what kinds of organisms live there.

Soils are home to billions of bacteria, fungi, insects, worms and other creatures, but little is known about their ecosystem and how it affects things like crop yields or flood protection.

Image by mtr79 / Flickr