The Three Roles of the Dung Beetle
This week’s program are all about the beneficial bug with a classy classification: the dung beetle.
Hayes Goosey, Montana State University…
“There’s three types of dung beetles. There’s those that live right in the pat itself. Those are called dwellers. They can eat up to, I think it’s around 300% of their body weight.”
It doesn’t seem like much for one beetle, but get 100 of them on a cattle pat and they can really get that recycled off the soil…
“Then there are tunnellers. Those burrow a small hole beneath the pat and they’ll move manure from the pat down below. Then what happens is we’re moving a lot of that N, P, and K and the organic matter, which I like organic matter in the soils as much as we can get because it’s a sponge that helps hold water back.”
The whole process also helps to make sure those nutrients are readily available to the plant.
Last but not least, the stars of the show – the rollers – these are the fun ones to watch…
“They’ll carve off a ball and they’ll roll that some distance away from the pat. They’ll move that dung ball down a few inches below the soil surface.”
This also aids in getting nutrients below the soil while helping to get the manure off the ground so it can be replaced with forage.
We’ll talk more about that concept of pat smother tomorrow in your Southeast Regional Ag News.