Understanding and introducing the natural little bulldozers that benefit the environment in many ways was the focus of a Southern Queensland Landscapes workshop in the Surat district last Saturday.
Australia's international expert on dung beetles, John Feehan told the 20 producers on site at Grantham Downs that they held the key to improving soil and protecting cattle heath.
Every day in Australia up to half a million tonnes of dung is dropped onto pastures, which locks up nutrients and allows flies to breed and impact the health of cattle.
However, beetle colonies can bury dung in 24-72 hours and in doing so, allow nutrients to be released into the soil, promoting earthworms and microbial activity.
The former CSIRO researcher and entomologist said dung beetles were effective because they improved soil, stored carbon, protected cattle from bush flies, and created extensive tunnels that bring in healthy life and open nutrients.
"We've introduced over 10 different species for all sorts of different soil and dung types, environments and conditions," he said. "Different dung beetle species perform best in different environments, so we match the dung beetles to that environment."
Dr Feehan said there was no machinery that could be invented that could sequester carbon, bury dung, and promote soil health better and more efficiently than dung beetles.
He coordinates the largest and most efficient collection and redistribution of dung beetles in the world through his private organisation, SOILCAM.
Through that, he has redistributed more than 8000 colonies consisting of 20 different species across the country.
He hopes that rural Australia will adopt dung beetles as the premier solution to carbon sequestration and improving soil health.
An SLQ spokesperson said they hoped land managers who were at Surat, or who were interested, would get involved.
"We'd love to get to know them and figure out how we can help," he said. "They can also contact John Feehan for more information on dung beetles if they'd like to trial it on their properties."
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