23rd Feb 2022 |
On Wednesday 2nd March, students from Richmond Primary School will head to a farm near Richmond, to discover the important role that dung beetles play for soil health and sustainable agriculture.
Image: Dung Beetles in Richmond © Evie Drinnan
Landcare Tasmania is hosting a school excursion that will link kids to agriculture as part of its Landscape Restoration Project in the Coal River Valley. Funded through the State Government’s Landcare Action Grants and supported by the JM Roberts Charitable Trust.
Doing their part for the big picture, dung beetles help develop the soil by burying dung and tunnelling, increasing soil moisture and decreasing the amount of effluent runoff into watercourses. Students will also learn how dung beetles reduce the need for treating livestock with chemicals as the beetles bury stomach worms before they can reinfect the stock. Healthy dung beetle populations can increase agricultural production, and are a vital part of restoring and maintaining vibrant soil heath.
Images: Searching for gold...
The students will have hands-on experience by searching for beetles on the farm. Through an interactive session, the students will then learn about the connections of the beetles to the livestock and the soil, and their importance for agricultural production.
Image: Andrew Doube's true-to-life beetle sculptures © Rachael Treasure
This event follows up on dung beetle surveys on four farms in the Coal River Valley that Landcare Tasmania supported through the Landcare Action Grants earlier this year. The surveys found healthy populations of two dung beetle species, getting lots of cow dung buried.
A surprise result was the finding of one Blue Bomber (Geotrupes spiniger), which is unusual, because they are mostly active in the autumn. It has yet to be confirmed whether this beetle was very confused, or an innovator, trying out a new time of year.
Another new and surprising find were good numbers of the beautiful little native dung beetle Onthophagus posticus on one property. Mostly these beetles keep to native animal poo, so it was interesting to see them getting stuck into the cow dung. The further significance of this will have to be investigated!
This excursion our Landscape Restoration Program, which aims to bring together several members working on common issues, to gain a greater long-term benefit at a landscape scale. It also connects to our Outreach Program which aims to increase capacity for Landcarers so that all our land and coasts can be cared for by the community. Funded by: the State Government’s Landcare Action Grants and supported by the JM Roberts Charitable Trust.