Several seasonally active dung beetle species have been released in Jarrahmond. This project is just one aimed to encourage sustainable agricultural practices.
Dung Beetles have been released strategically across the grazing areas of Jarrahmond to complement sustainable agricultural practices. The first releases were in 2005/2006 and there have been 7 releases in total till the end of 2010.
Species released by Jarrahmond Landcare Group :
· Onthophagus gazella with some Euoniticellus intermedius (summer active)
· Euoniticellus africanus with some Euoniticellus fulvus (summer active)
· Bubas bison (winter active)
· Geotrupes spiniger (autumn active)
What role can they play in sustainability?
Dung Beetles bury dung quickly and efficiently, and in the process improve soil aeration, soil water penetration and retention, and nutrient cycling. The rapid breakdown of the dung incorporates some of the nitrogen into the soil which is otherwise lost to the atmosphere. Improving soil structure reduces water runoff and pollution of waterways.
Breaking down the dung helps reduce gastrointestinal parasites of livestock. Parasite eggs incubate in dung patches, hatch there into infective larvae, and then migrate to the pasture where they are ingested by grazing stock. They complete their lifecycle in the host.
When populations of dung beetles are strong a dung pat can disappear within 24 hours. This reduces general fouling of the pasture, increases pasture availability and enhances grazing efficiency.
Minimising the amount of dung on the ground reduces breeding sites for flies and helps to reduce the fly population.
Good farm management techniques can improve their viability.
Dung beetles are susceptible to some internal parasite treatments for cattle. Reducing the use of these can help maintain a good beetle population. This can be done by drenching strategically - only those animals requiring it. Another management possibility is to drench at a time when the beetles and larvae are less active. Use of beetle friendly parasiticides before beetle release can help reduce mortality.
Rotational grazing concentrates the dung in small areas and this assists the beetle population to find food quickly. Keeping stock in the release paddock will get beetles off to a good start.
Participation in fox control programs helps to minimise dung beetle predation.
Jarrahmond Landcare Group members are committed to the viability of the dung beetle population and encouraging the persistence of species active in all four seasons. Future monitoring is planned to measure species persistence.