Wheatbelt NRM’s Dung Beetle Highway project is gaining momentum. Four Wheatbelt mixed farms have signed up as participants in the two-year project which is aimed at building a connected network of livestock corridors that these willing workers can follow across the region.
Small dung beetle populations are scattered across Western Australia but with an increase in cropping and widespread de-stocking across the Wheatbelt, these populations are under pressure. There are enormous benefits to increasing the number and distribution of beetles throughout the region, as explained by Project Manager, Felicity Gilbert.
“When you mention dung beetles many people immediately think of fly and parasite control, however their benefits extend far beyond this.”
“Dung beetles are one of nature’s most efficient recyclers. Their tunnelling activities have significant positive impacts to soil health, pasture production and can also reduce water pollution.”
“In an area like the Wheatbelt, with its nutrient-poor sandy soils, this project offers an opportunity to explore more biological ways of improving soil health.”
This local project forms part of the national “Beetles With Benefits” research program which is uncovering valuable dung beetle insights in other parts of the country. In one trial, the introduction of dung beetles saw a 50% increase in pasture. Another study showed that a lack of these soil engineers can see a reduction of 200,000 hectares of pasture per year from leaving cattle dung unburied.
With the local project gaining momentum, Wheatbelt NRM is now looking to expand into the next phase which includes a trapping and monitoring process to enable a species identification. Following this, the project hopes to establish local “beetle nurseries” to increase longer-term availability across the region.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding this project throughout the Wheatbelt’s mixed farming community. Anyone interested in being part of the trapping and monitoring phase should get in contact with Project Manager, Felicity Gilbert at Wheatbelt NRM.
For further comment or photo opportunities please contact:
Felicity Gilbert, Project Manager – Sustainable Industries
Mobile: 0436 472 910