Farmers gain tunnel vision at workshop

DUNG HO: Adult dung beetles emerging from capsules. A workshop was recently held on the North Coast to show farmers how the beetle can help improve soil quality.
DUNG HO: Adult dung beetles emerging from capsules. A workshop was recently held on the North Coast to show farmers how the beetle can help improve soil quality. Dung Beetle Solutions

ABOUT 60 North Coast farmers attended a workshop to observe the bubas bison dung beetle going through its paces recently.

When SoilCare gained funding from a foundation to Landcare Australia, it invited Dr Bernard Doube to explain his soil improvement research to North Coast farmers.

Dr Doube, formerly CSIRO and now principal of Dung Beetle Solutions, is excited by bubas bison's deep tunnelling capability and that it moves clay subsoil to the surface, mixing it with air and manure.

Farmers watched the beetles dig down to 50cm, filling tunnels with cow manure as they went.

Eggs are housed in shells of reconstructed dirt and left safe for hatching after which the larvae will feed on the prepared dung.

These deep, straight passages (about 1cm diameter) are palatial highways for earthworms to move into and Dr Doube believes that together they form a grand symbiosis.

The mature beetles feed on the fresh, moist cow dung.

The balance of air and water is critical to soil health.

Establishment of the beetle in cattle and sheep pastures could be an impressive tool to improve pasture production, animal health, lessen compaction, increase water efficiency and subsoil organic matter, but it could do this in horticultural crops as well.

Dr Doube's trials in South Australian vineyards could hold the key to maximising quality food and minimising input costs.

Topics:  bernard doube, bubas bison, dung beetle, soilcare, soil health



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