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Agribusiness Dung Beetle Seminar

Wednesday 18th March 2020

"... This is an exciting development as more of the South Island begin to take advantage of these incredible paddock cleaners."

In an effort to give back to our amazing partners (farmers and industry workers alike), Agribusiness in Schools, together with Marbecks, Silver Fern Farms and Dung Beetle Innovations, organized and delivered the inaugural dung beetle seminar at John McGlashan College. Continuing their collaboration in the Agribusiness programme, Columba College and John McGlashan College invited Dr Shaun Forgie to speak about the benefits of dung beetles in agricultural pursuits. Dr Forgie owns and runs a dung beetle breeding facility in the Auckland area and is seeing these incredible environmental cleaners released throughout New Zealand, especially in the North Island.

Around 35 McGlashan community farmers attended the seminar, then joined Dr Forgie to release a 2000 beetle-strong package at Garth and Debbie Mitchell's farm. This package was generously donated to our Agribusiness programme by Dr Forgie. 

The students will now have the opportunity to study the effects the beetles have on this farm and the surrounding area over a number of years. providing these and future students with one of the first real-life, long-term investigations offered at the Colleges. Dung beetles contribute to soil aeration and drainage due to their practice of dragging dung 15 - 60cm underground to breed. Parasites that complete their life-cycle in the dung, and consequently infect livestock are also taken underground and get eaten by beetle larvae, eventually reducing the need for extensive drenching practices above the ground. Additionally, well-drained and aerated soil allows for significantly increased pasture growth after a few years of release, specifically around 30-40% after five years and up to 80% after nine years post-release.

Seminar delegates were very impressed with the presentation and many wondered why dung beetles were not encouraged more by government organizations and primary industry partners. Some of the delegates have now organized for Dr. Forgie to visit their region to run local seminars and release beetles on their farms. This is an exciting development as more of the South Island begin to take advantage of these incredible paddock cleaners. We are posting the seminar video on the school's Agribusiness page soon and those interested in discovering more about this natural resource and ordering beetle packages can find all the information they need by visiting: https://dungbeetles.co.nz/

Look out for future value-adding events offered by the Agribusiness programme later this year. For further information on our course and enquiring about enrolling your boy/girl in the programme at Years 12 and 13, contact Dr Craig Preston at craig.preston@mcglashan.school.nz OR Mr Sam Doran at sdoran@columbacollege.school.nz