Earthworms and Dung Beetles - the unseen heroes of our soil

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You may not realise it but there is a silent underground army working around the clock to bury dung throughout North East Victoria.

The Kiewa Catchment Landcare Groups, with support from the North East Regional Landcare Facilitator, recently hosted a field day with Dr Graeme Stevenson, a former Senior Research Officer with the Tasmanian Agricultural Department.

As part of the field day Dr Stevenson brought with him 2000 black headed earthworms (Aporrectodea longa) from Tasmania to top up sites as part of a chook yard trail initiated by the Kiewa Catchment Landcare Groups. The trial has been running for a number of years aiming to promote soil improvement through the growth of pastures and deep-rooted perennials by introducing earthworms from Tasmania to this region.

Kiewa Catchment Landcare Groups Local Landcare Facilitator, Belinda Pearce says that “Earthworm activity is often associated with increased soil fertility, enhanced soil microbial activity, quicker incorporation of lime into the soil profile, increased water infiltration and reduced soil compaction. Aporrectodea longa operates at a greater soil depth than other earthworm species and researchers have identified that these benefits include improvements to the chemical, physical and biological properties.”  

“This is an innovative and exciting project and should have excellent results for the soil in this area.” says Ms Pearce.

Dr Graeme Stevenson is a great advocate of dung beetles and praises the work done by groups in the area such as the Lucyvale Better Beef Group who’s successful dung beetle project resulted in seven species of dung beetles introduced into the area, with at least 3 species becoming established. Dung beetles have great benefits for the environment and help improve soil fertility and soil structure as well as increase the availability of grazing area, increase pasture production, improve water quality and reduce pest species associated with livestock.

A film titled Dung Beetles, Underground Army: Enriching soils has recently been produced with funding from the Regional Landcare Facilitator project and is available on the North East Landcare Gateway northeast.landcarevic.net.au or North East Catchment Management Authority website (www.necma.vic.gov.au). The film explains and demonstrates the benefits of dung beetles for your soil and how you can learn what species are present on your property.

 

For more information and a photo please contact:

 Kelly Behrens, Landcare Facilitator at the North East Catchment Management Authority

Tel: 0427 351 411

 This media release is authorised by Thomas Moritz. Chair RLF Steering Committee.