By Hamish Clark
Australian dung beetles may help New Zealand get out of the poo.
The insects can eat a cow pat in 48 hours, increasing farm productivity and improving the quality of streams and rivers.
The beetles are still in quarantine, but will soon be released to spend their lives eating cow pats.
“Like a shark going up an odour trail, these dung beetles catch an odour trail and go straight up to a fresh dung source,” says Landcare Research Scientist Shaun Forgie.
The adults feed on the dung, roll it up into balls and bury it, spreading it underground, while aerating the soil at the same time.
Eggs are laid inside the dung balls – up to 100 a month – as they chomp through millions of cow pats.
The move means farmers won’t need to spend as much on fertiliser, with the beetles taking the goodness of the cow pat beneath the surface.
“That would be a huge advantage, as long as there are no other side effects. I don’t know of any disadvantages,” says Tapu dairy farmer Rob Geddes.
Another advantage is cows don’t like to eat grass around where their dung lands. Its quick disposal will clean up the paddocks and reduce the pollution running off into waterways.
At least 15,000 Aussie beetles will be released to munch their way through New Zealand dung in Wellsford near Auckland and lower Southland at the end of the year.
source: newshub archive