There are more than 28 million cattle in Australia that produce over 280 million cow poos a day. That’s a lot of poo to clean up! So CSIRO scientists asked nature’s best poo recyclers for help.
Australia has hundreds of species of dung beetles that can break down dung from native animals. But it’s different when it comes to introduced livestock such as cattle and sheep. When cattle dung is left in the paddock for too long, it can smother pasture and the soils underneath. It also encourages thousands of bush flies to feast and breed, creating buzzing nuisances for cattle and people.
To tackle these issues, CSIRO scientists searched around the world for dung beetle species that can quickly break down cattle dung. Since 1967, CSIRO scientists have brought in 55 species of dung beetles and released 44. Now, 23 species have successfully settled in.
These introduced beetles have been tunnelling and rolling through countless cow poos since then, burying dung underground and returning nutrients to the soil. They also help reduce fly populations.
More recently, CSIRO researchers have released 3 new beetle species to help with dung recycling in southern Australia. The researchers are closely monitoring these beetles to see how they settle in, and observe their impact as new dung-gineers for soil health.