Dung beetles have been used in a research project to boost soil nutrition, improve water permeation and radically reduce fly and parasite numbers.
The project started in late 2018 by the Dung Beetle Ecosystems Engineers and aims to import and mass rear three new species of dung beetle including the Onthophagus vacca, Onthophagus andalusicus and Geotrupes sturmii.
Charles Sturt University's Professor of Applied Ecology and joint chief investigator Geoff Gurr said the project has successfully completed the first objective ahead of schedule.
"Over 24,000 spring and summer active dung beetles have been distributed to 50 farms across the Central West, southern Australia and Western Australia in recent months to be carefully reared and monitored by trained producers," he said.
Professor Gurr said the beetles play a critical role on the farm and the benefits will be felt year-round.
"The imported dung beetles have gone through an extensive quarantine and steralization process from the origins of Morocco, to the south of France, and then Canberra," he said.
"The Onthophagus vacca has been successful and has benefited farmers with their cattle, sheep, horses and goats as a natural solution to nature's problem.
"The imported beetles will complement the native beetles as they only focus on marsupial dung rather than livestock which means that dung becomes a breeding ground for parasites and pollutes the land."
Professor Gurr also said the dung beetle releases are on hold not only due to the coronavirus social distancing restrictions but also the seasonal release.
"We want to ensure when we release the beetles that they are able to establish and survive on the land," he said.
"We are currently waiting for the Onthophagus andalusicus beetles to arrive by the end of the year and Geotrupes sturmii beetles to arrive before the project wraps up in 2022."
More than $1 million has been invested into the project including support from Meat & Livestock Australia and funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture's Rural Research and Development for Profit program.
Professor Gurr also said livestock farmers can participate in the research project by contacting them on their website www.dungbeetles.com.au
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.