A Landcare Research entomologist shows off a handful of
dung beetles before their release on a Southland dairy farm
recently. Photo by Allied Press Files.
Farmers are being encouraged to welcome guests who have
an biological imperative to consume animal faeces on to their
The Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group released its first
batch of dung beetles on a dairy farm in Southland last month
and the group's chairman John Pearce said the beetles would
help transform paddocks around the country and transform New
Zealand's agricultural environment.
''At long last we can look at being seen to be truly clean
and green,'' Mr Pearce said.
The release was the first of 40 which were planned in the
next 12 months, he said.
The group had gained permission to import and release 11
species of dung beetles.
The variety of species allowed the group to release beetles
which were appropriate for the region in which they would be
released, he said.
''Some prefer drier dung, some prefer wetter dung, some
prefer horse dung.''
''The ones we brought down here are specifically for that
climate,'' Mr Pearce said.
Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said he was following
the release with interest.
''It is estimated that animal dung covers 700,000 hectares of
pastoral land in New Zealand,'' Mr Wills said.
''Dung beetles will process that dung for food and
reproduction, eventually breaking it down into a sawdust-like
material. Without them it can take up to a month for the dung
to break down.''
''Federated Farmers is supportive of the Dung Beetle Release
Strategy Group's plan to release more dung beetles on to
farms in other parts of the country and the environmental and
economic benefits that they bring,'' he said.
Mr Pearce said $600,000 had been spent researching the
viability and safety of the beetles and he was confident they
would transform paddocks throughout New Zealand, which would
bring productivity increases and environmental benefits.
''The cows should never have come without the beetles,'' he
''There's only one safe place for animal excrement and that
is in the ground.''
The beetles feed and breed on dung, rolling dung into balls
which their eggs are layed in. They then bury the balls
beneath the surface.
It reaped benefits for the pasture and soil and it stunted
the life-cycle of parasitic worms, he said.
For more information visit http://dungbeetle.org.nz
- Timothy Brown.