21 Jun 2012

Controlled release of imported dung beetles this year

1:32 pm on 21 June 2012

A Landcare research scientist expects to start the controlled release this year of imported dung beetles, which are being introduced to help farmers improve productivity and reduce pollution and pests in their pastures.

Dung beetles process animal manure by burying it, then using it as a food source and breeding site.

As well as fertilising the soil and improving its condition, that process also reduces emissions and run-off from animal droppings on pasture and controls parasitic worms that infect livestock.

Last year the Environmental Risk Management Authority approved the import and release up to 11 species of dung beetles, joining native and other types that already exist here.

Project Leader Shaun Forgie says some of the imported beetles are now ready for controlled release, in caged field trials.

He says Landcare has permission to release 11 of them, but he says it takes time to breed beetles which can be used in controlled releases.

Mr Forgie says as well as the soil health and environmental and pest control benefits, introducing dung beetles to farms would also increase the amount of manure-free pasture available for grazing.