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Slugs, bugs and worms the focus for better production

 

dung beetle

NRM South is this week covered in things that crawl, wriggle and slime.

It could just be the time of year, but on Wednesday this week our team will be out with Tasmanian ‘poo-ologist’ Graeme Stevenson talking about, looking at and digging up dung beetles and earthworms in Ellendale. That will be followed by a Slug Management Workshop in Richmond on Friday, and two more dung beetle workshops – one on Saturday in Richmond and the other on Tuesday down the Huon.

It might make you itch, but there are really good reasons why growers need to consider the good and bad of things that crawl.

Graeme Stevenson says that dung beetles have a very special role to play in regulating dung back into the soil.

“If the dung stays on the surface its nutrient value declines as both carbon and nitrogen volatilises (gases off) into the atmosphere. Dung beetle activity removes the dung from the soil surface which reduces the possibility of it being washed into local creeks/dams (leading to eutrification) and removes it from the surface making the pasture regrowth more palatable to stock.

“Burying the dung also removes roundworm larvae from the surface, reducing the worm burden in stock. By digging holes the soil is aerated and water infiltration is also increased (reduces surface erosion and stores water over dry periods). Dung beetles (and earthworms) create topsoil as they bring up subsoil with their diggings (soil casts).”

Stevenson is an animated and enthusiastic advocate for dung beetles and earthworms and the benefits they can provide to productive pasture.

He will be using the workshops to not only ‘enthuse the locals’ but also examine the worms and winter-active species of beetles in the area.

The Slug Management Workshop on Friday will be run by Macquarie Franklin and will talk about advice and strategies to combat slug problems. Michael Nash, a senior researcher with the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) who is currently working for GRDC on the integrated pest management of snails and slugs in grain crops will present.

More information on both workshops can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/nrmsouthTas

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