Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Enhanced Extension Coordination: Dung beetles on the Atherton Tablelands

The flotation collection method: Dung pat, soil and any grass are placed in a water filled bucket. The content of the bucket is stirred to break up the dung pat and the dung beetles are collected as they appear on the surface.

A peer-to-peer Beef and Dairy Productivity Network group on the Atherton Tablelands conducted citizen science research about the presence and activities of dung beetles. Dung beetles are vital to removing cattle dung from pastures to promote pasture growth, reduce chemical run-off, soil erosion and fly populations. The peer-to-peer group was formed as part of the Enhanced Extension Coordination in the Great Barrier Reef project. It focused on practical and innovative solutions to reduce nutrient and sediment run-off into local waterways.

Social outcomes from this project include farmers reporting an interest in sharing ideas for increasing dung beetles:

“Good to see what others have got and share ideas with others. Has been my dream for last 20 years to increase dung beetles.”

Farmers reported becoming beetle advocates to their peers, family and friends with one stating:

“I had colleagues at my office job bringing me beetles to identify and only one colleague actually has any cattle.”

All the farmers reported they had gained valuable knowledge during the dung beetle project:

“If I knew then what I know now… I wouldn’t have purchased the species of beetles that I did– there are other species with more chance of survival up here.”

This project is funded by the Queensland Government’s Queensland Reef Water Quality Program through the Enhanced Extension Coordination in the Great Barrier Reef project.