It’s a “Tighty Whities” harvest

It’s harvest time in Marion County, and it’s a “Tighty Whities” harvest, the end of the “Soil Your Undies” local challenge. Ten prominent Marion County farm women planted undies on their farms to learn more about soil health and help educate others.

Women taking  the challenge (NOT pictured in order)  were Tracy Duerst; IOKA Farms of Salem, Brenda Frketich; Kirsch Family Farms of St. Paul, Gayle Goschie; Goschie Farms of Silverton, Elaine Gumc; 4G Farms of Aumsville, Trish Hogervorst of Salem, Rochelle Koch; Whole Circle Farms of Silverton, Lori Pavlicek; 4B Farms of Mt. Angel, Joanne Ross; Scott Creek Farm Miniature Horses of Salem, Alexa Weathers; Willamette Mission Farms of Gervais, and Regan Wyckoff; M & R Stables, Turner.

In May, each farm woman “planted” a white XXXL  100% cotton pair of briefs, hoping the healthy microbes in the soil would degrade the cotton. 60 days later the results were displayed. The more shredded the undies were, the greater the breakdown.  Very little breakdown of the cotton meant that the soil was not hosting enough microbes. Marion Soil and Water Conservation District hosted the challenge on behalf of the local Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS).

The group of ten women “harvested” their Tighty Whities and met on participant Gayle Goschie’s farm and chose to “Dine in the Vines” at the hop field to compare results.  The follow-up of the soil experiment yielded eight women with no cotton undies at all, just the elastic band when they dug up undies.  Two women had a small amount of cotton, and both planted their undies a little late.  Several women were afraid they wouldn’t even find the undies they buried.

Betsy Verhoeven OSU Asst Professor talked with the group about soil health. Most “undies” were planted in a silty clay loam and in spite of little rain, had great microbial activity.

Gayle Goschie, who hosted the meeting for Marion Soil and Water Conservation District said “It was a very successful undertaking, we were not sure what to expect. Lots of jokes, of course, but we are always open to learning about soil health.”

The conservation district is challenging other farmers to follow the lead of these ten women and take the challenge and see for themselves the differences in their fields soil health.  The results of the challenge will be on display and the participants will be attending the Marion SWCD Soil Health Workshop on November 6, 2019 at the Chemeketa Eola Campus in West Salem.

Are you concerned about soil health? Take the challenge, just go to the NRCS website  and get started.  If you have questions about soil health, we will be glad to help you.  Reach us at or call Marion SWCD at 503.391.9927.