2011-02-02

Farmers recruit the dung beetle


Federated Farmers is celebrating the Environmental Risk Management Authority’s (ERMA) approval for the importation and release of eleven dung beetle species. The Federation believes these will make a great contribution to agriculture’s environmental performance.

"It’s a very good day because ERMA’s process has been thorough, rigorous and sound," says John Hartnell, Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson.

“Dung beetles provide an environmental and agriculture win-win by breaking down ruminant dung while building the organic structure of soil.

“One of the major benefits of dung beetles is their ability to reduce farm related environmental degradation.

“These beetles rapidly break down ruminant dung thereby reducing farm related run off. They also act like a mini fertiliser factory while aerating soils and this boosts pasture productivity.

“For over 160 years New Zealand has had the livestock but not the insects that had co-evolved a symbiotic relationship with them. Part of the ERMA process was to ensure our native dung beetles would not be displaced.

“The difference being that our native beetles have evolved different tastes.

“The dung beetle species being imported tunnel only as deep as earthworms. This has obvious benefit to all pasture especially as their tunnels are continually backfilled.

“The benefits are most acute in summer when soils harden. These dung beetles can go where earthworms fear to burrow.

“It also means less flies and that has a major and obvious benefit for animal health. Reducing nitrous oxide run off is another direct benefit of these amazing little insects.

“With members of Federated Farmers Auckland province as part of the Dung Beetle Strategy Release Group, this is a great day for all involved,” Mr Hartnell concluded.

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