Local farmers signed up in droves to learn more about dung beetles over a lunch time webinar hosted by GeoCatch this month.
Kathy Dawson, South West coordinator of the Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers project and Manjimup farmer Doug Pow, spoke about the importance of dung beetles and their roles in nutrient cycling, pest control, soil fertility and the benefits for water quality.
The most common species in the South West is the Bubas bison, which is active autumn to winter. This species was introduced to Australia from Europe in 1983 and lays its eggs, along with dung, up to 60cm deep in the soil. Attracting more species that do this important work year-round will improve soil structure through better aeration and water infiltration, as a result of the tunneling activity of the beetles.
Yoongarillup dairy farmer, Elaine Haddon, is keen to encourage more of these ecosystem engineers to her property. Elaine set up a dung beetle trap near her dairy to help collect information about dung beetle species present in her area.
“What we’d love to see is more species of dung beetles throughout the year on the farm,” she said.
“In summer, dung beetles can remove almost all traces of a large cow pat in 24 hours, but we hardly see a beetle in winter and spring.”
The data collected at Elaine’s farm contributes to a national database on dung beetle species, increasing our knowledge about the abundance and diversity of dung beetles.
Supporting farmers to learn more about these ecosystem engineers is one way that GeoCatch is promoting improved nutrient management. Farmers are also signing up for this summer’s soil testing program and a number of other on-ground projects are underway to keep nutrients on farms and out of waterways through the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program.
The Revitalising Geographe Waterways program is supported by the State Government to improve water quality, waterway health and management of Geographe waterways.