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One man’s recipe to fight climate change: dung beetles and climate change

Date: 22-Oct-19
Author: Liam Taylor

One of the key ingredients of Mr Pow's innovative farming system is exotic dung beetles, who help return nutrients to soil.

One of the key ingredients of Mr Pow's innovative farming system is exotic dung beetles, who help return nutrients to soil.

A West Australian farmer is blazing a trail towards agricultural sustainability with his own innovative farming system designed to combat climate change and tackle soil health issues.

Manjimup cattle farmer Doug Pow has developed a strategy to capture carbon, improve soil fertility and reduce carbon emissions on his property in South West WA. The technique combines cattle manure, exotic dung beetles and biochar to create a cyclical process for rejuvenating soil quality

Mr. Pow mixes something called biochar (a form of charcoal made from biomass) with molasses and uses this mixture as feedstock for his cattle. Once the cows have done their business dung beetles take the biochar-infused manure into the soil to feed their larvae beneath the surface.

Beneath the soil’s surface biochar has been shown to boost soil health and fertility by encouraging microbial activity through provision of nutrient-rich feedstock. At the same time, research has shown that when fed to cattle biochar can promote more efficient digestion and reduce methane emissions. 

“It’s of benefit to the soil, of benefit to the atmosphere and, really, of benefit to the animals as well,” Mr Pow told ABC News.

Mr Pow has been refining his approach since 2012, and his work has not gone unnoticed with domestic and international researchers showing interest in the positive results. As a result, the farm recently received the Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award at the 2019 Western Australian Landcare Awards.


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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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