Dung bee­tles wel­comed

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers is cel­e­brat­ing the En­vi­ron­men­tal Risk Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity’s ap­proval for the im­por­ta­tion and re­lease of 11 dung bee­tle species. The fed­er­a­tion be­lieves they will make a great con­tri­bu­tion to agri­cul­ture’s en­vi­ron­men­tal per­for­mance.

‘‘It’s a very good day be­cause au­thor­ity’s process has been thor­ough, rig­or­ous and sound,’’ fed­er­ated farm­ers biose­cu­rity spokesman John Hart­nell said.

‘‘Dung bee­tles pro­vide an en­vi­ron­men­tal and agri­cul­ture win­win by break­ing down ru­mi­nant dung while build­ing the or­ganic struc­ture of soil.

‘‘One of the ma­jor ben­e­fits of dung bee­tles is their abil­ity to re­duce farm re­lated en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion.

‘‘These bee­tles rapidly break down ru­mi­nant dung thereby re­duc­ing farm re­lated run off. They also act like a mini fer­tiliser fac­tory while aerating soils and this boosts pas­ture pro­duc­tiv­ity.

‘‘For more than 160 years New Zealand has had the live­stock but not the in­sects that had co-evolved a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with them. Part of the au­thor­ity process was to en­sure our na­tive dung bee­tles would not be dis­placed.

‘‘The dif­fer­ence is that our na­tive bee­tles have evolved dif­fer­ent tastes.

‘‘The dung bee­tle species be­ing im­ported tun­nel only as deep as earth­worms. This has ob­vi­ous ben­e­fit to all pas­ture es­pe­cially as their tun­nels are back­filled.

‘‘The ben­e­fits are most acute in sum­mer when soils har­den. These dung bee­tles can go where earth­worms fear to bur­row.’’

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