Dung beetles are being enlisted in the fight to improve the health of soils and waterways on the south coast, with the State Government announcing funding for four new beetle nurseries in Denmark.
Dung beetles play an important role in maintaining the health and fertility of Great Southern soils and can boost agricultural production, reduce flies and retain water in the landscape.
But during the cooler months in Denmark, there is a shortage of these little recyclers, causing increased nutrient run-off.
Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan was in Denmark last week to announce $34,780 of funding had been awarded to the Wilson Inlet Catchment Committee under the latest round of Natural Resource Management grants.
“What we’re finding is 80-90 per cent of the nutrient flow that is going into the waterways comes during that June-August period,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“That’s a period where we don’t have dung beetles active.
“(Without beetles) you get less fertility, less carbon build-up in your soils, so that affects your productivity. You can get waterways that are polluted, and that can then kill marine life.
“By introducing dung beetles … we can start solving that problem.” About $8 million has been invested in 76 projects in the latest round of the State Government grants scheme, designed to support locally driven conservation projects across WA.
Grants awarded include almost $30,000 to protect shorebirds in the salt lakes of North Stirlings, and $35,000 for a feral pig control program across the shires of Plantagenet, Denmark, Cranbrook and Manjimup.
The Bibbulmun Track Foundation secured $35,000 to support vegetation regrowth along the track.
“I think one of the great things about the NRM system is you do have these local groups here that understand their landscapes and are coming forward with creative ideas about how we can deal with those problems,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“As well as having things that are of benefit being developed by government, we’re also using the creativity and local knowledge of these small groups.
“We can build on the great insight and capability and passion of local people.”