Shotgun Announcement: Black Soldier Fly as Feed for Quail and Swine, BSF Digestion of Cellulose, and Continued Expansion of Research Globally
Lots of papers have recently come out on BSF.... here are the highlights (Think David Letterman top ten list but not 10 items... just 5 items).
1. BSF at 10% inclusion can be used as quail feed!! Yes- it works. :) Could be something of interest to the quail industry in the southern USA where quail (if same species) are produced in colony.
Hermetia illucens larvae reared on different substrates in broiler quail diets: effect on apparent digestibility, feed-choice and growth performance
2. BSF at 10% inclusion can be used as swine feed!! Supports previous research published on this topic many decades ago.
Partially defatted black soldier fly larva meal inclusion in piglet diets: effects on the growth performance, nutrient digestibility, blood profile, gut morphology and histological features
3. Here is another paper discussing the ability of BSF to digest cellulose (which is huge- but needs more work to determine efficiency and how to optimize the process).
Rehman, K. u., R. Ur Rehman, A. A. Somroo, M. Cai, L. Zheng, X. Xiao, A. Ur Rehman, A. Rehman, J. K. Tomberlin, Z. Yu, and J. Zhang. 2019. Enhanced bioconversion of dairy and chicken manure by the interaction of exogenous bacteria and black soldier fly larvae. J Environ Manage 237: 75-83.
4. BSF can be used to digestion food waste in Ghana. Something to keep in mind- when dealing with "food waste", it would be good to be as quantitative as possible with regards to defining the food waste- what is it? What is its composition?
Development of Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) in Selected Organic Market Waste Fractions in Accra, Ghana
5. Not BSF-related but pretty cool study on composting aquaculture waste- I thought you might find it interesting.
Composting as a strategy to recycle aquatic animal waste: Case study of a research centre in São Paulo State, Brazil
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Presenter of cornucopia of research topics
Diversity of Black Soldier Fly-Based Products Continues: Rabbit Feed, Bio-lubricants, and Bio-diesel
I was reviewing recent citations on the BSF and came across two unique articles examining uses of BSF-related materials beyond what has been traditionally discussed in the literature.
My first response was- "I cannot make this stuff up!" (pretty exciting)....
My second thought was.. "Well, I know what my topic of discussion will be this week." (very fortunate- the blog sorta writes itself... maybe Google is the puppet master organizing the blog for me)... with that said- I would think Google would love the BSF concept as related to waste management, sustainability, and protein production (anyone have some connections with Google they are willing to share with me? I will gladly reach out to them! :)
And my third thought was, "These papers are refreshing as they present novel uses of BSF."
Now that you know what I was thinking when I read the papers- here we go!
The first paper, out of my friend and colleague's lab in Italy, examined the use of BSF and mealworm fat as a replacement for soybean oil in rabbit feed. They had multiple diets comprised of different amounts of insect oil in the diet (in place of the soy oil)- the good news- criteria measured were not significantly different from the control. Has anyone considered developing the rabbit feed market? Seems like a smaller market that might be attainable with regards to supply/demand.
Gasco, L., S. Dabbou, A. Trocino, G. Xiccato, M. T. Capucchio, I. Biasato, D. Dezzutto, M. Birolo, M. Meneguz, A. Schiavone, and F. Gai. 2019. Effect of dietary supplementation with insect fats on growth performance, digestive efficiency and health of rabbits. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 10: 4.
The second study determined the oil extracted from BSF could be a potential use as a bio-lubricant or bio-diesel. Of course, the bioenergy topic has been covered in a few papers over the course of the past five years or so- but the idea of bio-lubricants... fairly original. On the surface, this focus might not seem that exciting. But, I think you should consider the research topics reviewed here and other places online. The topics typically fall into a few areas- which translates into a limited number of products being produced from BSF. So, I like the idea that researchers are diversifying the applications of BSF as diversity leads to stability and opportunity for researchers and industry alike.
A Protein-Based Material from a New Approach Using Whole Defatted Larvae, and Its Interaction with Moisture
I hope you enjoy the articles... and that you have a great weekend!!
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, Director, Glad Spring has arrived in Texas, USA!!!
As with any field, having critical mass in terms of individuals conducting research is critical to advance the science at an efficient rate while allowing for new ideas to develop more quickly and effectively. If numbers are low, I think the impact is obvious. We risk exploring limited topics and applications with production of data occurring at a slower rate.
My background has allowed me to work in a number of different arenas involving decomposition ecology, such as integrated pest management, sustainable waste management, insect production for use as food and feed, and even forensics. In many instances, my linking with researchers outside of the applied sciences has allowed me to conduct research that appeals to a broader audience outside of the applied arena. This result has been truly beneficial to me, and I would like to think the applied sciences, as new researchers have been recruited to conduct experiments in the given area of interest (i.e., increasing army of researchers and diversity of topics covered). In terms of insects as food and feed, more researchers the world over are taking an interest in insects paramount to the industry as potential model organisms.
These model organisms allow scientists to explore topics explaining how nature operates while at the same time producing data that are beneficial for applications- such as mass production. At the same time, when such basic researchers utilize such insect models to address questions that they find interesting, they are able to tap into resources not commonly available to the applied researcher. In the USA, those funds would come through agencies such as the National Science Foundation or National Institute of Health to name a couple.
Berggren et al (2019), in their opinion piece, presents research topics that would allow for bridging basic and applied sciences in the insects as food and feed industry. The authors illustrate the various arenas where basic research on such models allow scientists to explore broader topics while producing data with applied outcomes we all are interested in seeing achieved At the same time such efforts result in the recruiting new researchers. Here is the citation- hopefully you can access it.
Berggren, Å., A. Jansson, and M. Low. 2019. Approaching ecological sustainability in the emerging insects-as-food industry. Trends Ecol Evol 34: 132-138.
Much of the information in the article is readily known to practitioners that might read this blog; however, the real appeal of the article to me is the location in which it was published- Trends in Ecology and Evolution; one of the premiere basic ecology research journals globally.
By using this platform to offer an opinion on the use of the insects of the food and feed realm as models by basic researchers. The authors present a case demonstrating these insect models are adequate to address basic questions ranging from environmental ecology to physiology (just as examples).
Everyone currently working in this realm is doing a great job (so I am not criticizing current efforts at at all); my hope is such an opinion piece will increase interest in such model systems resulting in a stronger research pool (in terms of numbers and diversity of topics covered).
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Encourager of Network Facilitation
Studies Regarding the Fertilizing Capacity of Poultry Manure Biocomposted by Fly Larvae (Diptera: Stratiomyidae)
It's that time of the week again for another addition to the Science Blog about Black Soldier Fly (cue exciting music)!
This week I am reviewing a paper published out of Romania on the use of BSF larval frass as a fertilizer agent- a topic not heavily covered in the literature.
Studies regarding the fertilizing capacity of poultry manure biocomposted by fly larvae (Diptera: Stratiomyidae)
I am not very familiar with this particular journal- but given the topic, I had to take a look at the results.
My thoughts on the topic......
For most people that have worked with the BSF, they recognize the digestate (i.e., residue remaining after BSF larvae feed on a substrate) can be quite appealing as a potential fertilizer for soils. In our case, the residue we produce has the consistency of ground coffee with a moisture content below 20%. Both factors enhance the product in terms of packing and shipping (limited wasted space as particles are all the same size and more material in a shipment as weight is not hampered by water content).
The challenges I have faced with BSF residue/digestate is not the consistency of the product in terms of nutrients but that the material was still very "hot" (i.e., lots of nitrogen); so, I had to be careful when applying it to plants (tomatoes in my case) as too much would resulting in burning and in some instances death. Of course, this experience is limited to a couple of trials conducted early in my career- nothing too in-depth.
However, over the course of the past 20 years, I have talked with BSF producers around the globe and picked up some pretty interesting anecdotal data about the potential for this material as a fertilizer. What I found most interesting besides enhanced plant growth were the claims that using the digested material as a fertilizer resulted in less insect feeding on the plants (herbivore damage). I can imagine this being partially true (lots of promise) as the presence of insects in the vicinity of a plant can induce plant defenses (been documented for a number of insect/plant systems). So I do not think it is too much of a jump to conclude placing insect frass mixed with digested biowaste around plants would result in similar responses. Is this true with regards to BSF- well, I cannot say yes or no. However, I can say that investigating such a topic would be of immense value to the industry, and I encourage others to tackle this topics. But if you do- I encourage you to recruit across disciplines (e.g., plant physiologist, soil scientist) to enhance your project impact.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, a little bit of a green thumb
I received this paper this morning from my colleagues in Italy. If you have the time, please do take a look at it. They did an exceptional job detailing the digestive tract of the BSF larva.
Such research is sorely needed as we are attempting to harness the BSF larval process for recycling wastes. They seem to be able to digest just about anything organic (sounds like a grand challenge- "find the organic waste streams BSF are NOT capable of digesting").
Bonelli, M., D. Bruno, S. Caccia, G. Sgambetterra, S. Cappellozza, C. Jucker, G. Tettamanti, and M. Casartelli. 2019. Structural and functional characterization of Hermetia illucens larval midgut. Frontiers in Physiology 10.
In this study, the authors focused on the midgut of the fully developed larva, which had been raised on a standard grain diet. They dissected the full digestive tract and provide excellent images detailing the various anatomical features at a gross scale.
Much like a previous study presented in this blog, the authors detailed the pH of the various regions of the gut. But, they also build on this knowledge with detailed description of the morphology (physical features) of the midgut cell lining (epithelium) while distinguishing the different regions. They then proceed with a description of the digestive enzymes (through a multitude of experiments) identified and their activity in the midgut. They accomplished this goal by adding temperature as a factor and determined if shifting temperature impacted such activity. I consider this a key part of the study as they demonstrate temperature impacts enzymatic activity- with peak performance at 45C. This is really interesting as it suggests BSF larvae are capable of handling these high temperatures during development; however, temperatures above 45C negatively impacted activity).
A couple of questions for the authors and others to ponder:
1. How does the midgut vary across instars (larval development stages)?
2. How plastic is the digestive tract with regards to food provided (i.e., does the morphology shift when larvae are fed different diets)?
3. How much variation do we see across populations from around the world?
4. Any thoughts on how to better prepare larval diets to take advantage of the capabilities of the midgut of the BSF larva (i.e., can we better formulate diets to enhance digestion and protein production)?
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Boggled by Insect Physiology
Part of EVO's mission is to open doors to expand the global knowledge-base on the use of insects as food and feed. We believe such a mission is achieved through collaborating and facilitating research and application opportunities. One such opportunity came through collaborations with Inagro in Belgium to test lights for their ability to enhance BSF breeding indoors.
Inagro is a Belgian non-profit organization for applied research and advice in horti- and agriculture. Inagro’s researchers guide farmers/companies/government into a more sustainable and innovative future. Currently we have more than 200 employees in a variety of research area’s such as: greenhouse cultivation, field vegetables, edible mushrooms, biogas production, circular economy, aquaculture, insect rearing, etc.
In the department for aquaculture and insect rearing, five people are employed involved with the insect research:
Stefan Teerlinck: Head of the department and expert in aquaculture
Dr. David Deruytter: Researcher, specialized in black soldier fly
Ir. Carl Coudron: Researcher, specialized in mealworms
Ir. Jonas Claeys: Project hunter/writer
Lukas Depraetere: Technical assistant
Our insect pilot plant is approximately 300 m² with a laboratory, processing room and 6 climate controlled rooms with a combined area of ± 150 m². Currently we are breeding three insect species (BSF, mealworm and the Argentinian cockroach) and focus our research on:
Besides research we are in close contact with the Belgian and European insect industry and government via the strategic platform for insects (Belgium) and IPIFF (Europe). Finally, we inform the general public, feed manufacturers, investors and (starting) companies about the possibilities of insect production with onsite demonstrations, tours, internships and by demonstrating techniques within the insect production. The latter, for example, has already been done (and will continue to do) for the JM Green breeding LED (https://www.evoconsys.com/blog/comparing-jm-green-breeding-led-with-halogen-lamps).
Inagro is thrilled to be part of the EVO consortium and to further work on the industrial application of BSF to reduce agricultural waste and increase the protein production. As an applied research center, we are open for suggestions from the industry to tackle specific problems.
A visual impression of our pilot plant (https://youtu.be/8WzFKFn-1OM) or our black soldier fly larvae (https://youtu.be/5o5Xr2YRLRQ).
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Facilitator
I am by no means an expert in life cycle analysis. So I will keep my comments to a minimum and allow you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions from the following article. But, I would like to say, while the topic is fairly intense with regards to the complexities of the analyses, the article is an easy read- just take your time with it. To help get you started.....Life cycle analysis allows for the assessment of the environmental impact of a given process.
The following article is a thorough evaluation of the impact of industrialized production (a case example) on the environment (good and bad). The article is straight forward and very efficient with clear conclusions from the analysis along with recommendations stated at the end of the paper.
Compliments to Alex Mathys and colleagues at ETH and Eric Schmitt at Protix for pulling together such a thorough study. Also, extended gratitude to Protix for opening up their process at a pilot plant to allow for such a critical study for the industry as a whole.
While the industry is still in its infancy- great strides have been made in its industrialization while being sensitive to environmental impacts and trying to have a positive influence. Hats off to the entrepreneurs globally committed to insect production and doing it the "right" way!
Sustainably...economical.... environmentally friendly!
Smetana, S., E. Schmitt, and A. Mathys. 2019. Sustainable use of Hermetia illucens insect biomass for feed and food: Attributional and consequential life cycle assessment. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 144: 285-296.
Some of the Major Finds:
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Impressed
Compliments to the authors for pulling together so much information into one location.
Lamsal, B., H. Wang, P. Pinsirodom, and A. T. Dossey. 2019. Applications of insect-derived protein ingredients in food and feed industry. Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 96: 105-123.
A few highlights...
Protein Sources- This section set the tone for the paper as it reviewed protein and its value to society, current usages, and sources. I particularly found the discussion of plant based vs animal based protein of interest as it relates to conversion rates when these materials are consumed. The authors used this section to build the justification for insects as a protein source.
Protein Location- Some discussion I found particularly interesting was the overview provided on protein content of insects and the location of these proteins in the insects. The reason this section was particularly interesting to me is it emphasized not all protein can be extracted from insects and used. This limitation is partly due to the protein being bound in regions such as the exoskeleton.
Cultural Approval- A discussion of cultural acceptance of insect-based protein was also discussed (comparison between groups in Germany and China where the second group was more accepting of insects as food than the other). This topic pops up a few times as it remains a major challenge to the insects as food industry.
Terminology- The authors review the use of select terms, such as flour, as related to different sectors with the insects of food and feed industry. They suggest the use of some terms needs to be limited to specific aspects of the industry or avoided all together. For example, as with the term, flour, as it relates to plant-based material and could potential ruffle feathers of the wheat industry (much like the use of the term meat or milk).
Check out these links related to controversy of term use: Meat and Milk
Processing Considerations- A nice overview of how insects are processed today as related to industrial production. They authors discuss oven drying, freeze drying, and other techniques applied. They also discuss the limitations of these techniques as related to economics, efficiency, and quality assurance.
Product Development. A summary of the host of products that can be produced with insects was provided. This section included a table listing different items currently on the market. They also discuss the economics of some products as feed replacements. Fo example, they review articles that discussed replacing broiler diets with BSF-based meal and the positive data generated to date. Mainly, findings indicating replacing standard diets with BSF-based diets resulted in similar production levels and efficiencies (no negative impact on feed conversion or production). The same was determined in certain fish studies using insect meal as a feed.
Challenges to Industry. Primary hurdles faced by the industry that were discussed in the article are not surprising- How to increase production? How to insure quality and safety? The need to diversity products through new insects being explored for their use as food/feed as well as subcomponents of the insects that can be harvested to increase product diversity. I appreciate the authors urging greater continued research (something I enjoy- as you can imagine) and collaboration with industry.
Overall- A nice article that can bring a person up to speed with the industry globally.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Continuing Efforts to Expand Understanding
Continued Efforts to Demonstrate Use of Black Soldier Fly Meal as Feed in Aquaculture: Today's Study- Atlantic Salmon
Over the course of writing for this blog, I have had a few discussion pieces on insect meal as feed for the aquaculture industry. And, a lot of the discussion has revolved around select fish species. One fish produced in massive quantities and of interest to the BSF world is the Atlantic Salmon.
This paper, which is set to be published "officially" soon is now available online in preprint form. I recommend it as a reading for anyone interested in BSF meal as aquaculture feed. I cannot state this enough times- we need more studies like this one to continue to build support for the insect-farming industry while also making sure BSF meal is an appropriate feed in terms of economics, quality, and safety.
Belghit, I., N. S. Liland, P. Gjesdal, I. Biancarosa, E. Menchetti, Y. Li, R. Waagbø, Å. Krogdahl, and E.-J. Lock. 2018. Black soldier fly larvae meal can replace fish meal in diets of sea-water phase Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Aquaculture.
In this particular study, the authors used a diet ranging from 0 to 100% BSF meal in combination with fishmeal. They authors determined development was not impacted by the inclusion of BSF in the fish diet. Digestibility was similar across diets and fat content was not changed by including BSF meal.
Furthermore, a sensory study (e.g., taste test) of the fillets produced indicated "small" changes.
Odor and color of the fillets was not changed.
Flavor was not changed; however, there was an increase in rancid flavor (not significant). Texture of the salmon fed BSF meal were soft; however, once baked, they were considered harder than the control.
Overall, a very nice study. The figures included in the paper were quite impressive as well. So, if you have time- check it out.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Fish Consumer
I came across this summary paper from a conference discussing the ability of the BSF to convert such waste to insect biomass.
While personally not a huge tofu fan, it appears the BSF consume its waste with equal enthusiasm as with other organic waste streams. Not surprisingly- BSF larvae consumed it.
Anggraini, R., P. Yuliyarti, and Yusnina. 2018. The effect of percentage of tofu dregs as a medium grows against the number of maggot populations (Hermetia illucens). IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 453: 012047.
This article is open access- so enjoy. But, a bit of patience as the writing is a bit raw. However, I applaud the authors efforts with such studies!
Jeffery K Tomberlin, PhD, Supporter of ALL research BSF
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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