Dung beetles take centre stage in Barossa

Dung beetles take centre stage in Barossa

Sheep
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THE humble dung beetle will take pride of place at Mount McKenzie next week, as part of a Meat & Livestock Australia Pasture Update - the first held in the Barossa Valley in four years.

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ON-FARM TRIAL: Small, on-ground nursery-cages will be used to house spring-active dung beetles as part of a trial. Photo: BERNARD DOUBE

ON-FARM TRIAL: Small, on-ground nursery-cages will be used to house spring-active dung beetles as part of a trial. Photo: BERNARD DOUBE

THE humble dung beetle will take pride of place at Mount McKenzie next week, as part of a Meat & Livestock Australia Pasture Update - the first held in the Barossa Valley in four years.

Those attending the update on June 18 will be given an up close look inside the world of dung beetles, with Dung Beetle Solutions' Bernard Doube planning to dig up dung beetle holes and insert a mini camera.

Dr Doube said there were virtually no effective spring-active dung beetles in southern Australia, leaving the dung of domestic stock to accumulate in paddocks, locking up soil nutrients and providing a breeding ground for gut parasites and bush flies.

Recognising this seasonal gap, MLA has funded CSIRO to import two new species of spring-active dung beetle from southern Europe.

Between 2012 to 2017, these beetles multiplied from small numbers to thousands and Dr Doube said it was time to take them to the farming community.

"We plan to establish both species at more than 100 farmer-managed farmer-nurseries across southern Australia on carefully-selected farms in target release areas," he said.

Four on-ground nursery cages will be installed on each of the trial farms. Two generations of the dung beetles will be reared in these cages across 20 months, before being released into paddocks on the test property. The project is seeking a cattle property host in the Barossa region.

Hosted by the Grassland Society of Southern Australia and the Barossa Improved Grazing Group, the update will also explore virtual fencing, effective perennial pasture management and grazing for increased profitability.

BIGG technical facilitator Brett Nietschke said the program featured a wide selection of topics that had been highlighted recently by members seeking more information

The Pasture Update will also hear from MLA's Mick Taylor on the MLA Feedbase Adoption Plan, CSIRO research scientist Dana Campbell will outline plans for development of a virtual fencing system for cattle, Mike Stephens from Meridian Ag will discuss succession planning and rural consultant Tim Prance will show how to get the most out of pasture systems with grazing.

The update will get under way at the Mount McKenzie hall from 8.30am on Tuesday, June 18. The cost for GSSA, BIGG and MLA members, is $25, while non-members will need to pay $50.

  • Registrations can be made to GSSA Secretary Melinda Caspersz on 1300 137 550 or office@grasslands.org.au.

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