Undies tell all — about soil health

OTTAWA — 4-Hers were challenged to use critical thinking skills to debunk bad science and wade through the infinite virtual world of information during a presentation at the Global 4-H Network Summit in Ottawa earlier this month.

Clayton Robins, executive director of the Manitoba 4-H Council, told young people to dig deep.

“Seek out the truth and help change the conversation so we can do better going forward,” he said.

Critical thinking involves making judgments based on reasoning, considering options, drawing conclusions and making judgments in addition to reflecting on your own and others’ thinking about information that is received.

Robins encouraged young people to view information on debates about topics such as climate change from a more scientific perspective to weed out what is legitimate.

“When you see charts describing what’s going on, it’s easy to make it look like it’s related or causing something else but it might not be. It might be complete bunk,” Robins said. “This is stuff you might be able to interpret as legitimate if you don’t do your homework and critical thinking.”

International delegates raised challenges faced in their own countries , including food security, pests and soil degradation.

As homework, Robins gave them two cotton 4-H face cloths to bury in separate locations when they returned to their farms and communities. They will be dug up in September to see how much they change.

This Soil Your 4-H Face Cloth experiment mirrors the Soil Conservation Council of Canada’s Soiled Undies campaign, which determines if soils have a healthy amount of microbes, bacteria, minerals, earthworms and fungi by the state of the underwear.

The more microbial activity in the soil, the more it breaks down and the better the condition of the soil.

“We need to do a better job of managing our soils going forward for building regenerative food production systems and resilient systems that we know we can rely on.”

About the author


Stories from our other publications