Dung Beetle Seminar Features Holistic Planning for Profitability, Soil Health

Farmers and ranchers looking to learn more about healthy, profitable ecology management are invited to attend “From Poop to Profits: Dung Beetle Management for Farms & Ranches” on July 1 and 2 in Ottawa, Kansas. At the seminar, they will:

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  • Hear from keynote speaker Spencer Smith of Surprise Valley, California, about how he factors healthy ecological practices into his organic cattle herd management;

  • Learn about dung beetles of the prairies and management strategies that work with their life cycles and needs;

  • See dung beetle management strategies in action in a tour of a farm utilizing novel approaches;

  • Learn strategies for bringing ecology management together with profitability, including new markets opportunities;

  • And start their own holistic plans, exploring decisions about next-steps for their own ecology and profitability management.

The seminar will be hosted by two area farms. Day 1 will feature a keynote address by rancher Spencer Smith of Surprise Valley, California. It will also include education about dung beetles of the prairies and include a farm tour, led by Dr. Mary Liz Jameson and Morgan Tribble of Wichita State University.

Day 2 will provide a hands-on holistic management workshop in which participants can start their own paths toward dung beetle management, co-presented by Smith and Lawrence-based Holistic Management field professional Julie Mettenburg, of the Tallgrass Network. Mettenburg helped organize the event together with her father, Al Mettenburg, one of the host farmers.

Poop to Profits registration is open.

“Recent studies of nature’s ‘pooper scoopers’ have indicated that these amazing creatures are important to the health of the soil and to the farmer and rancher’s bottom line.”

Smith will discuss how dung beetles helped boost whole ecology health and profitability on his Northern California organic cattle ranch, and will co-present the hands-on workshop in how to create a financial and land management plan to encourage dung beetles.

He will also share information about potential market premiums that can be captured with management changes toward regenerative practices.

“Dung beetles in pastures is a sign of a healthy and productive land base. However, to the alarm of entomologists and ranchers worldwide there has been a decline in the population of dung beetles on industrially farmed land,” Smith wrote in an article for Acres magazine, November 13, 2018.

“Recent studies of nature’s ‘pooper scoopers’ have indicated that these amazing creatures are important to the health of the soil and to the farmer and rancher’s bottom line.”

“My dad got hooked on Dung Beetle information a few years ago, reading books and even sending samples to a scientist at the University of Illinois, who I’m sure wondered, “who is this crazy farmer from Kansas?’”

Julie Mettenburg said the event is part labor of love by her father, Al Mettenburg, and his neighbor, Scott Yeargain, who operate the two farms that are hosting the school. It is also part practical field school for land managers wanting to dip their toes into ecology-friendly management practices.

“My dad got hooked on Dung Beetle information a few years ago, reading books and even sending samples to a scientist at the University of Illinois, who I’m sure wondered, “who is this crazy farmer from Kansas?’”

That scientist, Steven Nardi, Ph.D., began a correspondence with Al Mettenburg and connected him with Dr. Jameson, a biologist at Wichita State University and recognized expert in Dung Beetles.

While Al Mettenburg learned more about Dung Beetles, he found the plans for a walk-through “fly trap” for cattle that could help eliminate the use of Beetle-threatening chemicals on livestock for fly control. Yeargain built a trap and will be providing a tour to see it in action, as well as provide the plans for participants to build their own.

Dr. Jameson and a graduate student, Morgan Trible, will be providing sessions on Dung Beetle biology and life cycles, especially for beetles of the prairies, and lead the field portion of the farm tour.

Cost of the 2-day seminar includes lunch both days plus materials and is $149 per person. It will be held at Neosho County Community College - Ottawa Campus, Ottawa, Kansas.

Register at tallgrassnetwork.com.

The seminar is provided with financial assistance from the Kansas Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Alternative Crops.

For more information about speakers:

Please email Julie at tallgrassnetwork@gmail.com for more information.