Bug Blog

Dung Beetle a Boon to Farmers and Ranchers

Dung Beetle a Boon to Farmers and Ranchers

A researcher who has spent his life investigating the habits of dung beetles has a vision of introducing more of these magical critters in his home country of Australia.  His efforts to understand the machinations of this dung-eating wonder have led to a far better picture of pasture production.

Dr. Bernard Doube supervises a dung beetle breeding operation.  He’s an entomologist who both studies and sells the bugs.  His research shows that pasture production is increased by at least 30 percent due to beetle activity.

The beetle feeds on cattle dung, and in this way the soil becomes restructured.  While fertilizer may last only a season, the beetles’ work is much more valuable because it creates a steady 30% increase in soil production capacity.  During the first couple of years of bringing dung beetles to farms, Dr. Doube noted the increase in soil capacity was 50-60%, but it levels off after that.

Dr. Doube would like to import 25 new species of dung beetle to create biodiversity and support their reproduction in Australia.  He estimates a 50 million dollar investment by the federal government is necessary, and popular support combined with years of research may make his dream come true.