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Robyn Budd and Hamish Browne, alongside Dr Shaun Forgie, get ready to release 400 dung beetles onto Black Pond Farm. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Farmers see power in beetle brigade

Two Mangatangi farmers have joined forces with Dr Shaun Forgie and his brigade of dung beetles, which, when deployed on to New Zealand paddocks, have the ability to improve water and soil quality and mitigate the excessive accumulation of manure.
At Robyn Budd and Hamish Browne’s 106 hectare property, Black Pond Farm, Dr Forgie arrived with 400 dung beetles in tow, ready to be released on the pasture.
Hosted by the NZ Landcare Trust, local farmers and Mangatangi and Maramarua Catchment Group members heard what Dr Forgie – co-founder of Dung Beetle Innovations – had to say about the critters, of which there are around 7000 different kinds throughout the world.
He told The Profile there had been some challenges in getting local and central government to jump on board with the beetles.

“It’s not so difficult when you talk to a catchment group that has this idea of sustainability and improving water quality, especially, but when you want to go up a level to councils or to regional councils and government, that’s where frustration comes with the idea of thinking more sustainably,” he said.
The Profile first caught up with Dr Forgie when he visited another Miranda farm in February, 2021.
Since then, he said they had done at least another 100 dung beetle releases.
“It’s amazing, New Zealand is small but it’s still got a lot of pasture, and I drive down the road and still think: ‘There’s so much area that needs beetles’.
“We’ve got a lot of farmers getting on board, but individual farmers themselves can’t change water quality across the country, so really it requires larger scale pick-up by councils and central government,” he said.
“We do have farmers coming to us and saying they didn’t release [beetles] but they’re coming onto their farms… They are spreading about a kilometre a year. So, eventually everyone will benefit. It will just be neat to get it done a lot quicker to see those benefits sooner.”
At Black Pond Farm, Robyn Budd and Hamish Browne have the ethos of “nature knows best”. For the past six years, their cattle have provided them with free range, grass-fed beef from their “organically grown, holistic” block of land.
“We’re always looking for new ways and better methods of dealing with things that aren’t the best for the environment,” Hamish said. “This is our start in the dung beetle world… we might get some more and increase the population.”
“[It’s about finding] natural solutions, really,” Robyn added. “Nature knows best, so if we can help facilitate that process, that’s great.”
DETAILS: For info on dung beetles and their release on to NZ farms, visit: