It Takes a Village (of Insects) to Raze a Manure Pile

Dung beetles are the "charismatic megafauna" of the dung-degradation world. They're what we think of first. But, according to an article in PeerJ, they couldn't do their job nearly as well without a whole host of arthropods joining in. In fact, researchers found that dung beetles make up only 1.5-3% of the population of insects that process poop in pasture. In addition, the more diverse and abundant the population of arthropods, the more dung beetles you're likely to have and the more quickly dung will degrade into the nutrients that improve soil and help your pasture plants grow. Speed is of the Essence Turning a dung pat into nutrients in the soil as quickly as possible is important. Left on the surface, it can smother plant growth, and can reduce the area where animals graze. In addition, 22% to as much as 80% of the dung's nitrogen can volatilize into the air in 60 days, and other nutrients can be lost to leaching and runoff. The result is reduced nutrients important for plant growth, and lower quality forage for livestock. Enter the Arthropods Fortunately, the arthropods start to work as soon as a dung pat is deposited. In fact, most dung degradation occurs within a week of the dung hitting the ground, with the insects doing mos

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