Have you ever wondered what dung beetles are actually doing for your soil?
It’s important to have a clear understanding of why they're beneficial and why they need to be there. Over the past few years, more and more ranchers across North America have been focusing more heavily on soil health. Why does soil health matter, what sort of impacts does it have on your operation, and where do dung beetles come into play?
What Is The Purpose Of Dung Beetles?
The next time you're out in your pastures, take a couple of minutes to stop and look at a manure pat. What you want to see is holes spread out over the top. This is a sign of good, beneficial bugs, specifically dung beetles.
A couple of the reasons dung beetles are so important is because they aerate the soil and help pull the nutrients from the manure down into the ground. That’s what is going to help feed the beneficial microbes, and ultimately, improve the overall microbiology of your soil.
Types of dung beetles
There are three main types of dung beetles: rollers, tunnelers and dwellers. The little critters may be small, but they sure are mighty! Boasting a strength of rolling a dung ball that is over 1,100 times their own weight, they come in as the strongest animal in the world compared to body weight! That is equivalent to a 180-pound human rolling more than 800 of the 250-pound Riomax® lick tubs. Placed side by side, that would stretch out for 1/3 mile! Not only strong, these insects also are extremely focused, determined and fast. They work quickly because they face fierce competition from other dung beetles and in some instances, have been known to completely remove large manure pats in less than 24 hours. At the end of the day, they all help in some way to get the manure broken up, spread out and brought down into the soil so that every nutrient is utilized.
Can dung beetles actually make a difference on your ranch?
The more nutrients you can get out of your manure, the more you’re feeding the biology underground, and the more it's going to improve your grasses. When your underground biology begins to improve, your grasses will function better, and pull more nutrients out of the soil that's provided by the bugs. Ultimately, this will make your grasses more nutrient-dense. Of course, nutrient-dense grass is beneficial for your cattle because they can get more out of less.
Another major benefit to having the fresh manure broken down and disseminated out across the landscape and down into the soil is the disruption of the fly life cycle. With flies laying eggs in manure the dung beetles help to reduce the fly population by removing the manure, often within hours of it landing on the ground!
To take it one step further, cattle that consume good grass will be healthier, and the healthier the cattle are, the healthier we as humans will be when we consume that meat. It’s one big cycle, and it all starts underneath the ground, with beetles improving our soil!
Learn To Take Advantage Of Dung Beetles
To enable dung beetles to reach their full potential, it is also important to analyze your cattle mineral program. Some low-quality mineral programs actually have a negative impact on your soil health. Here at Riomax®, we work hard to provide a high-quality cattle mineral program that will benefit your soil.
By now, you hopefully realize the positive impacts that dung beetles can potentially have on your operation. By improving the soils and grasses on your ranch, you are essentially building a better foundation for your cattle herd.