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Dordogne winemaker uses cotton pants to analyse soil

A winemaker in the Dordogne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) is using French-made organic cotton underwear to analyse the effect of farming practices on soil quality, in an experiment dubbed #BreakSLIP.

Anthony Castaing, winemaker in Pomport, is one of six winemakers to have buried a pair of organic cotton pants in the soil in his vineyard. He will now monitor the fabric, to test how quickly the living microorganisms in the soil are able to break it down.

It has been buried 20cm deep, and is expected to stay there for three months while it is “attacked” by the biological elements in the ground.

Five other winemakers in the region are to take part in the experiment, which will finish on June 20.

Overall, the quicker the organic cotton disappears, the better condition the soil is in, from a winemaker perspective.

Mr Castaing said: “The ground is the principle element of all growth. The most important thing for us is that [the soil] is very much alive.”

The scheme was set up in partnership with wine-growing technician Laurent Colombier, from the Dordogne chamber of agriculture.

Mr Colombier explained why the process involved using a pair of pants, rather than another item of clothing such as a cotton T-shirt.

He said: “Because of the [waistband] elastic! When the pants are dug up, the elastic will allow us to find them again, if the deterioration [of the cotton fabric] is too significant.”

This is because the elastic is not expected to degrade, and will stay visible even if the cotton material disappears completely.

The organic cotton underwear was donated to the experiment by Périgord-based company Olly Lingerie.

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