Commercial Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Production in 2016 | Where Are We Today? : The Life and Times of BSF (Black Soldier Flies)
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Commercial Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Production in 2016 | Where Are We Today?

by Terry Green on 06/13/16

If someone tells you that commercial BSF production is simple, or that this technology has been worked out, you may want to check a little deeper into this subject. I posted a blog about two years ago addressing the business model in farming BSF regarding long standing challenges still needing attention (see On the Road to Commercial Production of BSFL |Sorting Out the Chaff). This blog is a follow-up review and critique of the current state of BSF technology relating to the growing of larvae off wastes, especially with regard to commercial scale up of BSF production.

Enthusiasm and interest in promoting advancements in commercial BSF production is important in driving this technology forward (see, for example, Black Soldier Flies as Recyclers of Waste and Possible Livestock Feed). But  I can’t help but be concerned that the science, engineering and economic components associated with this technology, also critical in advancing this technology, are lagging behind the hype surrounding it regarding its commercialization. Perhaps it is because this is an evolving technology still in its infancy, but it appears that in the rush to be the first to lay claim to successful commercialization of BSF grown off of waste, and in some instances to claim expertise in this technology, some companies, entrepreneurs and BSF enthusiasts have not spent enough time building an adequate knowledge base needed in farming BSF efficiently and economically.

Research back in the late 1970’s up through the early 2000’s  placed considerable emphasis on the “potential” benefits of raising BSF larvae grown off of organic wastes (see, for example, Dried Hermetia Illucens Larvae Meal as a Supplement for Swine, Soldier fly larvae as feed in commercial fish production, Using the Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens, as a Value-Added Tool for the Management of Swine Manure, Sensory Analysis of Rainbow Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Fed Enriched Black Soldier Fly Prepupae, Hermetia illucens, and Fish Offal Recycling by the Black Soldier Fly Produces a Foodstuff High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids). A number of websites, social media communications and blogs since then have elaborated even further on the potential benefits of using BSF in processing and recycling organic wastes including posts on this website (see Black Soldier Fly Larvae | An Earth Friendly Feedstock?, Is Composting an Earth Friendly Method of Recycling Plant and Food Scrap Waste? and Recycling Biodegradable Wastes? | Take Your Cue from Mother Nature).

Many people unfamiliar with this technology have a need to learn more about where commercialization of BSF technology is in a practical sense relative to its potential envisioned and articulated in the late 1970’s up through the early 2000’s. In getting to the root of this question it is important to ask in practical terms what production scale should one expect, or reasonably hope to achieve in operating a viable commercial facility?

How much waste must be processed for a company to begin realizing a profit? What yield of larvae might one expect or need to produce to cover costs in operating a commercial BSF production plant? Certainly from an entrepreneur or investor perspective, for a commercial operation to reach and maintain viability the existence of a significant market for selling end product must at the very least be sufficient to offset a company’s operating costs.

There is data available that can be gleaned from a knowledge base of wastes which can be used to get a fairly good estimate of the upper limit that one might expect in terms of larval yield relative to the amount of waste processed. This information can be used to help vet a company’s claims regarding waste processed, and project with some reasonable reliability corresponding larval yields. More on this – see below!

First, bear in mind that getting an accurate picture as to where BSF technology has evolved centers on how one might evaluate or vet a company’s claims that it has developed expertise in producing BSF larvae on a commercial scale. The answer to this question is not easy to come by. Not all press releases put out by companies purporting to be experts in farming BSF, for example, hold much water. In some instances having to answer to investors putting up funds for a commercial BSF operation may also shade or hinder transparency as to how much information a company is willing to share with respect to its production numbers, and revenues, relating to its BSF operation.

Social media can also obfuscate and even stand in the way of getting an accurate picture of where things stand. Enthusiasts and proponents wanting to see progress, and anxious to affect change, perhaps even with the best intentions, nevertheless without having independently vetted the company's claims become part of an echo chamber trumpeting a company’s claims.

A big part of the task in helping move the technology forward is to sort out the hype. One antidote in taming down some of the hype is to read and listen carefully for “weasel words”. “Can” and “will” should not be misconstrued as technological milestones. After all it is not whether a particular production level “can” be achieved, or that it “will” be achieved “when” such and such happens. It is what is presently going on which matters – keep in mind that old saying, “I’m from Missouri. I’ve got to see it to believe it!”

Having a basic understanding about the physical properties of wastes, nutrient energy considerations, and the Law of Conservation of Energy (which affects larval yield), makes it possible to gain a little better insight into the validity of a company’s specific claims regarding a commercial BSF operation. So it is worth taking a moment to review how this information might be used in examining the state of this evolving technology before looking at current year 2016 company claims regarding the state of commercializing BSF production.

With regard to nutrients, and inert matter in waste, and nutrient bioconversion into insect biomass, because of the Law of conservation of Energy one can say with certainty that not all of the waste mass, or even all of the nutrient mass in the waste, ever gets bio-converted into insect biomass. This would be a violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy which in energy terms can be paraphrased as “you can’t get more than what you start with!” Some gets expended in mechanical movement and heat as the larvae grow, crawl and feed on the waste, some gets dissipated in the form of spent metabolites (lost from the waste, for example, in the form of carbon dioxide, ammonia, nitric oxide and other end products), some gets consumed by microbes also feeding and growing off of the waste, some gets left aside as inert matter, etc.  Only a fraction of the waste mass ends up converted into insect biomass. On a dry weight basis, independent studies show that on average the yield of BSF prepupae harvested from food waste is about 25% (Bio-Conversion of Putrescent Waste, BSF Metrics & Yields| Scale Up Production of Black Soldier Flies). For manure, it depends upon the source of the manure but on average seems closer to about 12% (A value added manure management system using the black soldier fly, Research Summary: Black Soldier Fly Prepupae - A Compelling Alternative to Fish Meal and Fish Oil, High waste-to-biomass conversion and efficient Salmonella spp. reduction using black soldier fly for waste recycling).

The water content of waste used in farming BSF is also important in calculating larval yields. The moisture content of manure varies widely ranging around or slightly less than 50% in the case of solid manure to around 80 to 95% as a slurry (see Laboratory Analysis of Manure). The average moisture content of food scrap is around 70 to 80%, and its density is very close that that of water at around 1.06 Kg/L (see Profiles in Garbage: Food Waste, Waste Materials – Density Data ).  By combining this information it is possible to calculate an approximate yield of larvae expected for a particular tonnage of waste processed (providing the moisture content and type of waste used as feedstock is known).

In the case of food waste (average moisture content of 80%), its dry weight is 20% of its total wet weight. So the upper limit in terms of larvae harvested on a dry weight basis from food waste per ton of food waste cannot in this example exceed (remember “The Law of Conservation of Energy”!) about 200 Kg per metric ton of food waste (0.2 x 1000 Kg). But wait! We already know that it is not possible to realize a 100% bioconversion of the dry weight of food waste into insect biomass. If we factor in a 25% bioconversion rate based upon prior larval yield data in the case of food waste, then for every ton of food waste (wet weight) processed, the yield of larvae would be expected to be about 50 Kg of larvae (dry weight) per ton food waste (wet weight) processed. For wet manure having a water content of 80%, it would take around 40 tons (wet weight) to yield the same tonnage of dry prepupae (assuming a larval conversion rate of ~12%).

These calculations have relevance furthermore in considering the economics of a BSF production facility. Assuming dried larvae could be sold at a price equivalent to fish meal, and taking into account that fish meal is currently selling on the US commodity market around $1500 per metric ton (see Fishmeal Monthly Price - US Dollars per Metric Ton), under present market conditions, and assuming governmental food regulatory agencies approved the use of dried larvae in animal feedstocks (they have not yet done this), a commercial facility might at best realize about $1500 in gross sales per ton of dried larvae harvested from waste.

So what does this all mean? It comes down to the following, that the basic elements in play in farming BSF on a commercial scale dictate that for a company to operate in today’s market to make any meaningful dent in offsetting fish meal as a protein substitute in animal feeds, given that it takes on average upwards of 20 tons of food waste to harvest the equivalent of one ton of dried larvae, with a return in gross sales at best of around $1500 per ton (assuming the market was in place to sell the dried larvae!), that it would not only have to operate efficiently to remain viable, but that it would also need to plan to operate with the proper heavy loading equipment designed for moving large volumes of waste in and out of the processing train of the plant facility.

OK, with this in mind, look at what's happening as of 2016 regarding commercialization of BSF production. Table 1 lists representative (but by no means all) companies in different locations around the world currently pursuing commercial production of BSF. Out of the eight companies listed, four, AgriProtein (South Africa), Enviroflight (USA), Enterrafeed (Canada) and J M Green (China), claim specific production capabilities in harvesting larvae relative to a stated quantity of waste processed.  The other four recite the potential benefits of growing BSF off waste, and cite R&D capabilities regarding commercialization of BSF production facilities, but have not provided sufficient information to draw any clear picture as to where they are in advancing BSF technology in terms of actual scaled up production capacity.

Table summarizing claims of eight representative commercial BSF companies

It is informative in evaluating the state of commercial BSF production to examine in more detail the information provided by the four companies claiming current success in commercializing BSF production. Thus Agriprotein claims through its website in working in collaboration with The Biocycle Grow Out Facility that it gets a harvest of 1 ton of larvae for every roughly 5 tons of food waste (some mixed with human waste) processed per week (see Table 1). Enviroflight claims it is economically viable as of 2016, states that it has 17 employees, that it is producing 40 lbs of larvae grown off of pre-consumer food waste per 7 sq ft every 10 days. Its company CEO was quoted stating that his company could produce 300 tons of larvae per year per 3600 sq ft.  Enterrafeed states it has 24 employees, processes 100 tons of preconsumer food waste per day from which it harvests 20 tons of larvae per day. And J M Green infers in a video it posts through the internet that it can harvest 20 tons of larvae while processing 100 tons of food waste on a daily basis.

The larval yields reported in these examples are all however exceptionally high and beyond what one might expect based on the characteristics of food waste, its average water content, and earlier measurements characterizing larval yields recovered in processing food waste as discussed above.None of the companies provides the necessary information however on the actual water content of the waste materials used in their processing sites which is essential in accurately vetting their claims.

Regarding the economics linked with labor costs, in the case of Enviroflight, Enterrafeed and JM Green, their websites show that they are all growing larvae  in shallow bins filled with waste feedstock. This kind of technology can be very labor intensive and can substantially increase the cost of growing larvae.

To get an idea of the amount of manual labor involved in shallow tray technologies of this kind, bear in mind that a 5 gallon bucket of food waste weighs about 20 Kg (wet weight). To move one ton of food waste manually through what amounts essentially a “bucket brigade” operation requires the lifting and hauling of the equivalent of 50 buckets of the waste into the trays.

To process 100 tons of food waste on a daily basis amounts to hauling on a daily basis 5000 buckets of food waste! Double that labor every 10 to 14 days considering it is necessary to also empty trays in making room for more food waste needed in keeping the operation going. You can bet this amounts to a very heavy, labor costly and tedious lifting operation in moving waste back and forth from tray to tray in this type of operation.

Moreover, as noted above, based on the economics of a farming BSF and selling dried larvae as a fish meal substitute in animal feed, the scale of operation must be much larger in production output on an annual basis then has so far been claimed as in the summary of representative companies farming BSF presently listed in Table 1. One may want to question in this regard whether it is feasible to actually operate a plant facility without redesigning the operation to accommodate production using equipment and a processing train better designed for scale up operations than those employed by current companies claiming expertise in farming BSF.   

Enviroflight’s claims concerning larval yields (see Table 1) are particularly remarkable and worth examining in more detail. It is possible to make a rough calculation (in the absence of detailed information provided on the company’s website) on the amount of food waste that could be loaded per a 7 square foot tray cited on their website. Based upon the density of food waste (roughly the same as water) one can calculate that the seven square foot trays used by Enviroflight, filled to a depth of four inches, would hold approximately 70 Kg of food waste (mass = calculated volume divided by food waste density). On a dry weight basis (and assuming 80% moisture content) this corresponds to 14 Kg of starting material in dry weight units. Assuming a 25% bioconversion of waste into larval biomass, and taking into account the moisture content of larvae (approx. 50%), one would expect to see a larval harvest per tray filled in this way closer to around 3 Kg (0.25 x 14 Kg) per tray, roughly one-seventh of the harvest claimed by the company.

Even if the food waste had much less water content, say 50%, the same tray filled to four inches would hold no more than approximately 35 Kg of food waste on a dry weight basis which calculates out to a larval yield of not more than approximately 9 Kg larvae dry weight per tray every 10 days, still about half the mass yield cited by the company.

The company’s claim that it completes a larval harvest every 10 days is also unexpected since the life cycle of BSF (taking into account mating, egg laying, occlusion of young larvae, and growth of young larvae up through the prepupa stage, and including then the time it then takes for pupation to emergence of an adult needed to initiate a new life cycle) is closer to 2+ weeks even under the best of circumstances. The company doesn’t account for this discrepancy in the average life cycle of BSF which bears on their projected annual larval yield.

Where does all this lead us regarding commercialization of BSF presently? I think it is safe to say that even as of 2016 commercial BSF production still has a ways to go in development before it can be said that it is fulfilling the potential envisioned by researchers back in the late 1970’s. The current technology does not appear to have yet been designed in layout form by engineering standards needed to accommodate an industrial scale production facility capable of producing the many hundreds to thousands of tons per day output required if this technology is to offset fish meal as a substitute animal feed stock. Labor input most certainly must be reduced wherever practical given that dried larvae are at best a commodity product not likely bring in a revenue stream any greater than that of fish meal.  

Lastly, entrepreneurs and companies working in this field could better help advance this fledgling industry through more transparency in disclosing data on the type of waste used, its moisture content, the amount of waste used, and the corresponding yield of larvae, in a more standardized format. Additionally, it would be helpful if companies reported actual harvests averaged on an annual basis.

Comments on this blog, or any of our other blogs, are always welcome. Follow us through our RSS feed. For additional information or follow-up questions, visit our Q&A's or Forums page, or Contact Us (http://www.dipterra.com/).

Comments (26)

1. Ilkka Taponen said on 6/17/16 - 11:45PM
Thank you very much for writing this blog post. I think you got into the core of the issues associated with the insect farming; Everyone is talking, no one is showing anything tangible.
2. Noel Picou said on 6/23/16 - 12:42AM
Investments and capital bring ideas to reality. 2016 Enviroflight has been absorbed by a bigger player, first merger in the insect business. French company Ynsect has an envelope of millions of dollars to make pioneer progress, with the obligation of sharing the experience and the data. I see a sprint between continents, Africa, USA, Europe. I foresee major agro-industry groups investing millions once the food security laws in these continents evolve. To think it all started in a compost!
3. N.Roskam - ProEnto said on 6/24/16 - 01:44PM
First of all, I appreciate this article, as it shines some light on the current developments of BSFL production. I assume the producers in Asian countries are not taken into account, probably because we are not aware of their existence. The numbers mentioned by several producers might be high, but I do believe the cycle of 10 days mentioned by EnviroFlight might be viable. If you harvest the larvae after 10 days of feeding (regardless the time needed for the whole cycle) then 10 days for grow out and 3-4 weeks for the remaining cycle is exceptional to me. Remember, only a part of the larvae will go through the whole cycle, I estimate around 5 and 10%. The sector should be more transparant and work together, not only on limiting regulation, but mostly on the supply chain and food safety issues that needs to be addressed.
4. Terry Green said on 6/25/16 - 11:36AM
N. Rokam, thank you for your positive comments. Your assumption that my review omits Asian producers is however not correct – it does. There are a number of farming operations going on throughout Asia in places such as Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and elsewhere, but I don’t see any convincing evidence indicating that Asia as a whole is any further along in achieving a viable operation than in the West. Re your comments that the 10 day cycle might be viable, I don’t think so. Ten day old larvae are still very immature and small relative to their size on reaching the prepupa stage in their life cycle. Premature harvesting means sacrificing potential mass yields and seems contrary to what one would expect in striving for mass production. Furthermore, where does Enviroflight get prepupae needed for propagating its colony in replenishing larvae harvested if it harvests larvae that it grows prematurely every 10 days?
5. Phil said on 7/4/16 - 05:57AM
Dear Terry, Thank you very very much for sharing your insights and great knowledge with the interested community. I appreciate your work. I am not familiar with growth rates and times but harvesting premature larvae doesn't make any sense of course so its good to question that number. I wanted to ask if you included also any feedstock pretreatment costs that could occur if wastes need to treated before fed to the larvae due to safety reasons. Thermal treatment for example to ensure that pathogenes are eliminated and cannot enter the food chain. Another option to prevent that would be to treat the ready larvae after harvest and before processing intp meal or other products. Any ideas on that? Thank you. I just found out about your website and its great and triggers my interest for the topic. Best regards Phil
6. Terry Green said on 7/4/16 - 02:29PM
Thank you, Phil. Waste can be shredded and is stable stored under fermentation conditions until needed as feed stock. Larvae have no difficulty in growing off the fermented waste whereas its low pH (approximately 3.5 to 4.0) and low oxygen tension established while it is stored in a fermented state discourages the growth of pathogens. This method of storing waste furthermore kills off opportunistic insects which may have gotten into the waste before it was subjected to fermentation. Larvae harvested from the waste can be heat treated during the drying stage to insure kill off of potential pathogens subsequently picked up while larvae were growing off the waste. This in combination with quality control screening (see, for example, “Farming BSFL |Monitoring for Coliform Pathogens”, http://www.dipterra.com/blog.html?entry=farming-bsfl-monitoring-for-coliform) is an effective strategy in addressing the safety concerns you mention in your comments.
7. Irwan Santoso said on 9/5/16 - 11:43PM
What about Protix in Netherlands?
8. Terry Green said on 9/7/16 - 11:03AM
Vetting any company claiming expertise in the industrial production of BSF depends upon having verifiable information allowing one to separate hype from actual accomplishment. As stated in my blog, at the present time precious little information has been shared publicly by any company (including Protix of the Netherlands) claiming to be producing BSF on an industrial scale which would allow one to vet the company’s claims. Posted data on company websites on average long term sustained larval yields expressed in meaningful units (dry weight output per dry weight of waste processed), waste throughput, how spent waste was disposed of, and even any basic projection on the approximate return on the investment and operating costs in managing a scaled up production facility, all essential in accurately evaluating a company’s capabilities, are as a whole presently missing.
9. Irwan Santoso said on 9/14/16 - 06:08PM
Are these BSF producers not yet making money because of the high initial investment capital and high R&D spending hence they are not breaking even yet, or are they already making a profit but those profits go to expansion, R&D etc? In a large commercial scale BSF production, what would the COST STRUCTURE be? Having a plant in Europe and North America would have different cost structure than having one in a third world country, perhaps.
10. Terry Green said on 9/17/16 - 12:49PM
European and US government regulatory guidelines forbid the commercial marketing and sale of foods destined for human or animal consumption containing insect parts. Under the circumstances it is difficult to see where any BSF producer at this time would be able to recover any significant revenue through the sale of larva or larval byproducts as a food or feedstock product. In addition, under current market conditions one would not expect dried larvae to sell for more than about $1500 US dollars per ton under the best circumstances. It takes about 20 tons of food waste (wet weight), and even more animal manure, to produce a ton of dried larvae. The economics of this operation in making a profit requires a very efficient operation on a scale not yet demonstrated by any of the present companies claiming expertise in commercially farming BSF. Cost structure is a big factor and for a number of reasons differs between Europe, North America and other third world countries.
11. Lim Jefri said on 9/28/16 - 09:18AM
Hi, I am from Indonesia. I have big concern on food waste from my restaurant, so Last year I have bought your 4 ebook regarding BSF. After small trying with my food waste, I am agree with you that it is hard to get money from BSF if it is using centralistic concept. I have an Idea to do it in desentralistic concept but I have not try it, but I am not sure when I will try it in the field. And the other Idea, maybe the goverment should subsidise this operation. It is my opinion not as scientist but as business owner who have concern on enviroment.
12. Carl said on 12/14/17 - 10:14PM
An intriguing and confronting article, much appreciated. It has left me wondering if anyone has determined if the BSF feeding process is improved when the putrescent waste has been first dehydrated to reduce the water content to a lower (and measurable) level. This could also reduce labor costs.
13. Terry Green said on 12/15/17 - 09:11PM
Carl, it is not necessary to incur the expense and time lost in drying the waste before adding it to larval bioreactors. The least labor intensive and least expensive way of managing food scrap added to the larval bioreactor system used in growing larvae is to incorporate a central drain line inside the bioreactor. This provides a means for draining excess water released from the food scrap waste as it undergoes degradation inside the bioreactor. Mixing bulking agents such as shredded straw, dried leaves, coarsely shredded wood chips, or other readily available ligno-cellulosic matter, with the food scrap housed inside the larval bioreactor is also very effective in preventing the waste from compacting into a dense sludge. This latter step improves aeration and gas exchange allowing the larvae to freely respire, feed off of, and burrow through the waste, markedly improving larval yields.
14. Andrew said on 1/24/18 - 07:52PM
Hi Terry, just finished up this article and the previous one. Was very interesting indeed! As this BSF industry is very much in its infant stage, my question is regarding entry into this market and whether you would recommend entering into now/at all?
15. Terry Green said on 1/25/18 - 01:38PM
Andrew, it’s more a matter of nothing ventured, nothing gained. A very strong case could be made presently in setting up a business building modular units designed for implementing small scale, decentralized (local), farming operations in many parts of the world in processing upwards of 10 to 15 MT organic waste per year on site in realizing an output of larvae in the range of 1 to 2 MT per year. BSF technology has advanced to where it is feasible to farm on this scale simply and at very low cost. Modular units could be built to provide many farmers with an alternate source of high quality protein/lipid feedstock needed but too expensive or difficult to ship on site in many poor and remote areas of the world. For very large, centralized, industrial scale operations aimed at producing larvae on a scale of several hundred tons per year, progress is being made. But it remains to be seen if centralized farming will prove over the long haul as economically viable of a business model.
16. James said on 3/24/18 - 09:41AM
Dear Terry where can one get the blueprint to make those modular units, kindly advice.
17. Terry Green said on 3/25/18 - 12:10PM
James, I’ve posted a more recent blog on this specific subject (see - http://www.dipterra.com/blog.html?entry=farming-bsf-larvae-how-to). A small primary bioreactor (BR1) built on a concrete pad or floor and operated without stacking columns with a footprint of about 2 x 4 meters (approx. 6.5 x 13 ft), surrounded by an outer 2.3 x 4.3 meter (approx. 7.5 x 14 ft) larval containment wall, for example, including in the layout a central drain line, sump/bilge pump reservoir and pump assembly, and sufficient propagation bioreactors needed in sustaining steady-state larval production, can be built for under $1000. This size unit is sufficient to process 15 MT food scrap per year with an annual larval output (wet weight) of approximately 1.5 MT. For anyone needing more specifics and consulting support in working with this design layout, please consider contacting me through DipTerra’s Commercial and Industrial Consulting Services (see - http://www.dipterra.com/Products---Services.html).
18. Matthijs said on 4/14/18 - 05:43AM
Dear Terry, I'm currently working on a project about insect feed. I find it very difficult to find information about the current players in the market. Next to searching the web, I also sent them emails, but they are not willing to disclose anything. As I can see you have a lot of expertise upon this subtject, I was wondering if you could maybe help me answering the following questions. Do you have any idea of the profit margin of the current insect farms? Do you have any idea of the valuation of them? Do you know their current capacity and/or revenues? Best, Matthijs
19. Terry Green said on 4/15/18 - 05:38PM
Matthijs, your question is a good one. I am sorry that I cannot give you an answer to any of the questions you raise even now approaching two years since I posted this blog calling out for more transparency regarding this technology. It is most unfortunate that so many current operators in a position to know the performance of their commercial farming operations have so far chosen not to share this important information in a manner which would provide one an opportunity to conduct proper due diligence in vetting claims made. I raised similar concerns in 2015 in follow-up comments regarding an interview and article written by Harvey Black on farming BSF commercially published in “Entomology Today” (see https://entomologytoday.org/2015/05/26/black-soldier-flies-as-recyclers-of-waste-and-possible-livestock-feed/). I still think there is some way to go before people will be able to truly evaluate the economic viability and feasibility of farming BSF on a large commercial scale.
20. Shashank said on 5/2/18 - 10:04AM
There is no way to sell the BSF feed yet. So that's a failure. But I wonder if there is a way to justify a Centralized production system in order to support the feed of one's own poultry (5000-6000 chicken). Perhaps it would even be great if that person owned another side venture where there was massive amount of by-product waste. Such as the skin of fruits which are processed. That could work right? I don't need profitability, I just need it to touch slightly under the cost of conventional poultry feed.
21. Terry Green said on 5/3/18 - 01:55PM
Shashank, the key is to keep design and operations in a farming facility very simple while keeping labor to a minimum. Cut out all unnecessary steps relative to your stated objective. Experience and attention to detail, and the design of the bioreactors in maintaining steady-state output of larvae, are all extremely important. Larvae grow very well on the skin of processed fruits and/or vegetables. Any readily available plant based vegetable/produce byproduct in adequate supply to support the growth of larvae greatly simplifies the overall operation. In your application consider bypassing drying the larvae which adds cost to the operation. Scatter prepupae exiting larval bioreactors in a dedicated feeding area for the chickens to root out. For 5,000 laying hens, assuming a 60% diet of larvae, you might need to produce something in the neighborhood of 100 MT larvae per year.
22. Shashank Paritala said on 5/8/18 - 02:42PM
Thank you Terry for the advice, I was busy so I couldn't respond immediately. I have taken time to process and marinate your advice in my brain. I have two concerns. First off, I hear this about vegetable and fruit skins and also leaf vegetables and I was even thinking drumstrick by-products (not the actual Drumsticks. But all this kind of falls apart for me at the point that it's basically hardcore cellulose, which as you know BSF cannot process. You would need to have some other microbes break it down presumably. So there needs to be some pre-processing methods I assume. My pre-processing methods were basically going to be grind it up with an industrial grinder and use a filter or something to ensure particle sizes in accordance with a thesis I read (I will email link you). I guess my vegetable and fruit waste would almost pulpy like. I wish there was some literature which described the pre-processing techniques better.
23. Shashank Paritala said on 5/8/18 - 02:44PM
Let's consider the issues of not drying it. The biggest issue is the shelf life of the product which would be notably lower. Therefore your larval production would at all times have to undershoot the consumption by your chickens (which I think will be the case for me anyways). If you had overshot it, short of wasting the larvae, there is not much else you can do since you can't legally sell it. This is why I believe the drying process is critical unless your vastly undershooting your chicken consumption. But the whole thing is moot when you consider the fact that finding the waste is the difficulty.
24. Shashank Paritala said on 5/8/18 - 02:49PM
I am currently reading and dissecting everything you said in the steady state farming article you posted. What an absolutely fascinating idea and your explanation of it is excellent. I am still thinking of all the downsides. How does one control the population growth that would occur, at some point the number of larvae must outgrow your ability to feed them. Then I realize carrying capacity is after all the basic principle of all biological life and the problem would solve itself. The way you exploit the very principles of biology and the life traits of BSF is excellent. I am going to try it at least on a small scale I can afford to. I am still reading and thinking about it all day, I may come back to you with some fixes or things I have thought about. I love the discussion going on about, it’s finally getting attention in science, not CRISPR level attention, but enough that there is at least something for entrepreneurs to kick it off.
25. Terry Green said on 5/9/18 - 11:27AM
Shashank, because of limited space let’s focus in on the main issues you raise in your general comments. Re larval fat content, see https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405654517301300 and https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d62f/4dbbc5c8b2fb75592e483fafbafada791ed5.pdf highlighting good results on the growth and body weight of chickens fed fat-rich larvae. Re cellulose, many microbes growing on the same waste are capable of degrading cellulose. Larvae feed off these microbes while also competing for carbohydrates released from cellulose degraded by microbial cellulases secreted extracellularly into the waste. The growth of larvae off mixed waste can be viewed as a synergistic process with larvae feeding on both microbes and byproducts produced by microbial activity occurring in the waste. Re questions about using live versus dried larvae, this ratio can be adjusted as needed in optimizing cost savings depending on the specific application and goals in farming BSF.
26. Shashank Paritala said on 5/11/18 - 10:39AM
https://aquasiana.org/index.php/ai/article/download/41/93 Hello, the palm kernal cake they speak of is a good example of what your saying. They use a treatment of probiotic in order aid the process. however, when they say palm kernel cake, are they talking about the mesocarp of the coconut? wish they used some picture of used scientific names. that's likely what I am going to try and use. I am going to let you know how it goes.


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