Australian producers looking to identify dung beetle species on their properties will soon have a new guidebook at their disposal.
The Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers (DBEE) project has created ‘A Pocket Guide to Introduced Dung Beetles in Australia’ to aid farmers in understanding more about this hardworking creature and how it benefits their farms. The pocket-sized book is laminated and ideal for work out in the paddock. It’s complete with information on all the dung beetles that have been released by CSIRO over the past 55 years. Better yet, the book is free for producers who have partnered with the DBEE project.
Each of the species has a page of information and photos that will aid in identification, including a size index, daily activity times and seasonal activity. The species are arranged from smallest to largest in the book, including an actual size indicator. There is also a pictorial key at the back of the book with a systematic process to identify each specimen.
Dr. Paul Weston of Charles Sturt University says the book is a game-changer for producers looking to understand more about their local dung beetles – and what gaps might exist that could potentially be filled with the help of the DBEE Project.
“This book is important because there's nothing quite like it available at the moment. There have been a number of books on dung beetle published in the past, but none of them are as portable or field durable as this copy.”
“By increasing awareness and understanding of dung beetles, we’re more likely to have growers use practices which will increase the number of beetles in paddocks and thereby increasing their benefits, which includes improving soil in grazing systems, reducing the spread of diseases and insect pests like nematodes and bush flies, improving pasture health and reducing soil nutrient run-off into waterways”, concludes Dr. Weston.
Producers already involved in the DBEE program will be able to secure a copy of the guide book through participating Farming System group and Landcare groups. A limited number of copies will also be available upon request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A dung beetle identification smartphone app (created by the DBEE project team) has also been developed and can assist with surveillance of beetles in order to ensure researchers and primary producers are better informed. In addition, all members of the public can access the digital identification guide on the DBEE website.
The DBEE project is a national research campaign led by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) through funding from the Australian Government’s Rural Research and Development for Profit program. The project aims to fill in the gaps in the distribution of beetles in southern Australia by introducing new species, while expanding the distribution of existing species and developing a supply and distribution pipeline so more livestock producers can access beetles.
By releasing three new species of dung beetle across southern Australia over the five-years of the project’s lifespan, it’s anticipated that tonnes of livestock dung could be transformed into a multi-million dollar benefit for producers.
For more on the DBEE project visit https://www.dungbeetles.com.au
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