Dung beetles welcomed
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.’’