45. Been There, Dung That

05 Mar

FACT: New Zealand has a great many cattle, in fact it has more livestock than people. In fact the manure produced by all of the cattle accounts for around 14% of New Zealand’s Nitrous Oxide emissions; Nitrous Oxide being a powerful greenhouse gas. The fact that Nitrous Oxide is damaging to the environment happens to be a problem for New Zealand, so they are getting help.

They have approved the importing of dung beetles. A tactic used by Australia in the 1960’s, imported dung beetles travel around and smugly lay their eggs in the plentiful manure. The eggs then hatch and the brood sets about their business of digesting the manure, breaking down a mound of dung in around 48 hours compared to the normal time of a month for uninhabited mounds of dung. While this may not seem important it will make a tangible difference for New Zealand because of what the dung beetles leave behind.

By digesting manure, the beetles stop it decomposing and  releasing its greenhouse gases and bacteria. The dung beetles instead leave nothing behind except for sawdust which is easily absorbed by plants on the surface. All tests suggest that the dung beetles will be a hit; they arrive this year.

The first beetles will be released later this year.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Trivia


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One response to “45. Been There, Dung That

  1. Anonymous

    March 7, 2013 at 15:57

    What species will need to be introduce to control the plague of dung beetles?


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