IT'S a stinky new project that won't financially stink.
Using dung beetles to increase farm productivity and profitability will be the focus of a new project to be led by Meat and Livestock Australia, supported with $9.2 million in Coalition Government funding, it has been announced.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce joined Page MP Kevin Hogan, in Casino today to announce funding being delivered under the Rural R&D for Profit Programme, which supports R&D projects that translate into genuine benefits at the farmgate.
"The humble dung beetle can deliver big benefits on-farm," Minister Joyce said.
"They can improve soil health; reduce the spread of flies, pests and diseases; increase pasture health; and reduce nutrient run off into waterways.
"No wonder the ancient Egyptians gave them a sacred status!
"This project will help farmers unlock the potential of these powerful 'ecosystem engineers' to increase productivity and reduce the costs of production, effectively turning dung into dollars.
"MLA will collaborate with 12 project partners with the shared goal of realising the value of the 80 million tonnes of dung produced by Australian livestock every year.
"Rural R&D for Profit Programme funds projects that deliver practical and accessible results for farmers, including managing pests, better pasture management and production techniques and improving access to premium markets."
Mr Hogan said the project had the potential to deliver exciting benefits for Australia's $23 billion livestock industry.
"This project will involve the roll-out of national and region-specific dung beetle services to a network of over 1000 producers and producers groups," Mr Hogan said.
"These groups will have access to information such as a dung beetle database, infield training and online education packages to help select the more beneficial dung beetle species for their farm."
Minister Joyce said the government's Rural Research and Development for Profit Programme delivered on the government's election commitment to increase R&D funding for practical projects to give farmers new tools to help them increase returns at the farmgate and capture opportunities in global markets.
"We know it's important that R&D isn't just pie-in-the-sky ideas, but can be translated into real results at the farmgate," Minister Joyce said.
"Our funding for the $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit programme is on top of around $700 million that the government already invests in rural R&D each year."
- ABARES has found that for every dollar the government invests in agricultural R&D, farmers generate a $12 return within 10 years.
- The Rural R&D for Profit Programme funds projects that address the government's rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, as well as promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
- The first two rounds of the Rural R&D for Profit Programme delivered grant funding of almost $79 million for 29 projects, matched by more than $109 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful grantees and their partners.
- The CSIRO's 1965-1985 Dung Beetle Project successfully introduced 23 species of South African and European dung beetles to Australia, improving the quality and fertility of Australian cattle pastures, and reducing numbers of pestilent bush flies by around 90%.
- The American Institute of Biological Sciences estimates that dung beetles save the US cattle industry an estimated US$380 million annually.