Tiny Beetle making big impact on soil health

Tiny Beetle making big impact on soil health

As the heat swelters across the region, leaving desert-like landscapes splayed with cow dung, it creates the perfect environment for a tiny ground dwelling creature working tirelessly to protect our livestock.

John Feehan, entomologist and dung beetle expert visited the Northern Gulf Region in October to increase awareness and the importance of dung beetles. Through 5 sessions provided by Northern Gulf Resource Management Group throughout the region, John’s extensive knowledge and expertise was well received and very informative to those that attended each of the workshops.

Overall benefits of dung beetle activity in grazing paddocks and catchment areas are immense. Dung beetles feed partly or exclusively on faeces (dung). A dung beetle can bury dung weighing 250 times its own weight in just one night.

The actions of this amazing beetle aerates the soil, relocates nitrogen and phosphorous in the dung to the grass root zone, deepens top soil by slowly cultivating and turning it over to a depth of 300mm, encourages microbial activity, provides habitat and food supply for earthworms, increases rain water penetration and improves ground water retention.

The action of dung beetles in the soil allows more nutrients and chemicals from herbicides and pesticides to penetrate their tunnelling systems, aids in minimising unwanted run off and enables the locked-up phosphate of many Australian soils to be made more available for plant utilisation.

Taking dung below the ground helps in the reduction of internal parasite and fly burdens by decimating their breeding sites through rapid dung burial.

Dung beetles are capable of tunnelling into compacted soils enabling plant root systems to penetrate more deeply benefitting the regions natural fauna and grasslands.

More research is being conducted into just how beneficial and viable these beetles are to our region, but it is hoped that we will be seeing a lot more dung being rolled across the Northern Gulf region.

Thanks to the support of Mareeba Shire, Tablelands Regional Council, DAF and Bruce Smith from Landmark we were able to hold workshops at Wetherby Station, Railway Hotel Almaden, Pinnarendi, Georgetown and Tolga.

Studying the Dung BeetleCow droppings were Dung Beetles are found

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