Beetles with Benefits offers an exciting discovery to Jill Coghlan | border mail


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Cow poop is often one of the smelliest, sloppiest and least appealing parts of farm life, but a Riverina farmer said she was thrilled when a research project revealed that his cow’s manure was well managed with the help of a very special little creature. Jill Coghlan said she was surprised to learn that her property at Gerogery was home to a large number and diversity of dung beetle species last year, when she was approached by the Technical Research Coordinator of the Beetles with Benefits project, Dr. Russ Barrow. “Russ gave me a monthly measurement of the beetles he found in our home, so I think there are around seven to nine different species,” Ms Coghlan said. “The main one was the Bubas Bison beetle and it was just prolific. “I was thrilled to know what these dung beetles were doing underground and above ground, like fertilizing the soil and removing manure from above the ground.” The Beetles with Benefits project aims to expand the range of dung beetles in Australia and analyze their performance for breeders. OTHER NEWS: Dr Barrow said there are many benefits to having a healthy population of dung beetles, like reducing the risk of flies “The adult beetles don’t physically eat the droppings, but they suck up the moisture,” he said. “So they make it a less fly-friendly place Dr Barrow said the beetles help process the dung beneath the soil’s surface and turn the soil into a sponge, allowing rain to soak in, nutrients to be cycled through and pasture to grow on the very surface. lasts so when the rain co mes, it just flows from the surface causing erosion and any excrement that is on the surface is washed away by the waterways and you have pollution,” he said. “But if you have dung beetles, the dung is being processed and can be removed underground.” Research is continuing to find out why Ms Coghlan’s property has such an abundance of dung beetles, but Dr Barrow said one of the contributing factors was her good grazing practices. “Jill uses very strict grazing practices where the cattle basically eat a strip of land and then she moves them around and they don’t go on the same ground,” he said. “The beetles that then eat on the cattle manure, they don’t get trampled…so we would attribute some of the abundance to innovative grazing practices, giving the beetle the best chance of survival.” Ms Coghlan said she wanted to see more research on the dung beetle, including whether it could play a role in managing climate change. Our reporters work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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