Beetles set to get our pastures out of the crap

Beetles set to get our pastures out of the crap

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Dung beetles can help improve pastures by eliminating dung and leading to less habitat for flies and nematodes.

Dung beetles can help improve pastures by eliminating dung and leading to less habitat for flies and nematodes.

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Dung beetles imported from Morocco can achieve impressive gain, with the pest reduction gains they bring estimated at up to $100/ha.

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A NEW species of dung beetle has been imported into Australia to help fill seasonal gaps in activity of native dung beetle species and reduce the amount of animal dung for flies and nematodes to breed up in.

The painstaking work of those involved in the Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers (DBEE) project culminated this month with over 300 Moroccan dung beetles (Onthophagus andalusicus) beetles arrived safely at Canberra's CSIRO importation facility,

This journey gained an added layer of complexity when COVID-19 hit, meaning logistical problems in the exercise, however all were overcome.

The group of beetles' journey began last year when they underwent cleaning and rearing In southern France prior to heading to Australia.

They were then checked over by Aussie biosecurity officials before arriving at the CSIRO facility.

The beetles are the second dung beetle species to be imported to Australia through the DBEE project, which aims to import three new species to fill current seasonal and geographic gaps of dung beetle activity in southern Australia.

Results of the project are promising, with the introduced species credited with the significant reduction of fly and nematode pest numbers in Australia, improvement of pasture growth and recycling of soil carbon and nutrients.

Hailing from northern Africa, it's estimated the beetle will thrive in climatic conditions similar to those in central and south Western Australia, southeast Southern Australia, northwest Victoria and central and southwest New South Wales.

While they are small creatures, team leaders are expecting big benefits.

DBEE's lead of training, education and information delivery, Charles Sturt University Professor Leslie Weston, says an abundance of dung beetles could enhance pasture quality across southern Australia while reducing pest burdens, producing an estimated net benefit to farmers in excess of $100 a hectare in the more intensively grazed areas.

The story Beetles set to get our pastures out of the crap first appeared on Farm Online.

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