The beetles cleaning up the dung
Wed, 03 Oct 2012 7:00p.m.
This story is about the bottom feeders of farming life.
To be more precise: the very small insects that can dispose of the very large amounts of by-product that come from the sheep and cattle roaming our countryside.
Anna Burns-Francis went to meet the beetles who help to clean up the dirty problem of dung.
Watch the video to see her report.
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19/01/2013 8:59:01 a.m.
Anthony Maturin wrote:
Dung beetles - yes, I've seen how they deal with elephant dung in South Africa, and I'm sure they can do heaps of good in NZ. But sorry guys, our problem is simply that we have too many ruminants emitting large amounts of methane, which has to be phased out a.s.a.p. if we are to do our share in bringing down the parts per million of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. Well, cut back by at least 90% anyway.
Our present feeble efforts at cutting back on emissions have us on track for a 4° world by 2100 or earlier, and while we might say, "But we need our exports," they'll not be much use to us if our civilisation is wiped out by climate change. Neither am I happy with the knowledge that our emissions are already contributing to the plight of several million climate change refugees around the world. We're in an extremely serious situation.
Climate change induced immigration/invasion will almost certainly see us with a population of at least 10 million soon after mid century, heading for 20 million ultimately. Incredible? just look at a map of a 4° world. There'll be no room for stock farming as we know it, instead all available land will be closely cultivated for food crops. Using fossil fuel-less methods, as is the norm in many parts of the world.
I farmed livestock for 30 years - but I was wrong. THINK!
7/11/2012 10:05:57 p.m.
It amazes me that people still believe these things go on without a tremendous amount of research before hand.. sure Campbell Live hasn't reported on all the hours of paperwork, meeting, conferences and experiments.. because most of it would bore people and noone would watch it! The project has been approved by the highest authorities in NZ and yet Dr Forgie is STILL making sure every angle is covered before they are released even though a release is authorised. People who compare this to disasters from invasive species in the past have obviously just read a few dramatic stories which never mention that disasters such as Australia's Cane Toads was caused through people ignoring the recommendation of scientists such as Dr Forgie. New Zealand is world renowned for it's success of fighting invasive species and thats through the work of these guys and this company.
7/11/2012 8:31:03 a.m.
N O'Neill wrote:
Apparently we have at least 14, maybe more NZ native dung beetles, little is known about these creatures or their ecology. Insufficient research has been undertaken to exclude the possibility of interactions with these and other soil invertebrates. The precautionary approach is to learn more of these native beetles first. Not enough research has been undertaken to conclusively say they are only found in forests, and what about NZ's native grasslands? I find these current releases to be negligent without complete testing. Australian science does NOT answer questions around NZ soil ecosystems nor about our endemic beetles.
15/10/2012 2:21:15 p.m.
DR Bernard Doube wrote:
I have researched the role of dung beetles in agriculture dung beetles for the past 35 years. Initially with CSIRO and subsequently with our own R&D business in Australia.
The New Zealand Dung Beetle Program is an outstanding example of carefully researched applied rural ecology. The environmental risks of introducing additional dung beetles to the NZ have been rigorously examined and are virtually non-existent. Exceptional care has been taken when introducing these new species through NZ quarantine facilities.
It needs to be realized that there are already 3 species on non-native dung beetle established in New Zealand pasture. These are beneficial and causing no problems.
In Australia, 23 new species of dung have been introduced by CSIRO. None have caused a problem and all have been beneficial. The future benefits of adding additional dung beetle species to NZ pastures are substantial and the risks to the environment are minimal.
I compliment Dr Shaun Forgie on his outstanding project.
Dr Bernard Doube, Principal, Dung Beetle Solutions Australia, former CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and former OIC of the CSIRO Dung Beetle Research Unit, Pretoria, South Africa.
11/10/2012 3:35:49 p.m.
Andrew Barber wrote:
Hi, I am the project manager for our farmer led Dung Beetle Release Strategy Group. The regulatory hurdle to import exotic organisms is now necessarily very high. As a farmer group we fully support such a rigorous and cautionary approach. Our economy is largely based on livestock that came to this country without an effective means of waste disposal. As our project chairman John Pearce says, this project will rebalance the system. I invite people to visit our website at www.dungbeetle.org.nz. This site provides a description of the project, the benefits, and the process that we have been through in order to gain approval from the EPA (previously ERMA) to import 11 species of dung beetle. Dung beetles are on every continent of the world. I suggest looking towards Australia. They imported over 50 species of dung beetle between 1969 and 1984 (26 became established). They have not experienced any environmental or public health issues, quite the opposite. In fact the Australians have just begun importing more species, something they would never do if their previously imported dung beetles were causing any harm.
10/10/2012 8:58:30 p.m.
Sharon M wrote:
And I don't like the sounds of this dung beetle work either. NZ needs to be more careful and LandcareResearch using taxpayer funding should be answerable for this if it goes wrong!? Farmers like us should be very wary and demand more thorough testing first.
9/10/2012 2:48:27 p.m.
Pat Holm wrote:
This is an appalling project. Risks of introduction of these beetles could have unforseen ecological consquences, not only to the soil ecosystem, native invertebrates and disease. NZ agriculture has sufficient sustainable methods to alleviate dung build up on pastures without these potentially risky beetles, What are Landcare Research thinking (or aren't they?)
9/10/2012 2:00:18 p.m.
William Barraclough wrote:
Awful and risky "solution"
Reporter Anna Burns-Francis did you even ask if they had tested the biosecurity risks about bringing in these beetles yet? To correct Mark Hoddle actually the safety testing is incomplete as I have read they could spread bovine TB and no testing about spread of Johnes Disease? Great for our agriculture huh?
5/10/2012 3:15:03 a.m.
Mark Hoddle wrote:
This project being run by Dr. Shaun Forgie is an excellent example of the benefits that biological control can bring to NZ agriculture and the environment. The safety of these dung beetles has been demonstrated as a risk assessment report had to be prepared prior to release. Independent review of this report determined that dung spose no documentable risk to the NZ environment. Further, they are highly adpated to eating this type of animal waste which is their primary food source of which there is a lot to eat. In contrast, introduced earthworms are not dung eating specialists. This dung beetle program takes NZ agriculture one step closer to sustainable and reduced-impact farming.
4/10/2012 4:03:14 p.m.
kim parker wrote:
Campbell Lives report on Dung Beetles seems one sided and supporting the idea of introducing a foreign species without looking at the controversy that this could potentially be damaging to our eco system. What studies have been done or could be done to determine its detrimental effects. Have we not learned from previous introduced species. It seems only ethical to report on the pluses and minuses to such a HUGE decision. Will campbell Live offer such information to its listeners?
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