So, as I sit here in Wuhan, China (after another delicious meal that has left me in a state of gastric nirvana), I have had a few minutes to reflect on the question- what issues do I think are most challenging for anyone involved in black soldier fly production? And, while there are many....believe me... many... one issue I thought I would tackle in this post is the idea of self-identification.... not you identifying with whom you are and how you function... but about your black soldier fly and how it compares to other black soldier fly populations either in the same town (yes, even populations in the same town can be drastically different from one another)....state....province....nation...hemisphere... and possibly planet one day (think space exploration).
Well, a few years ago I had a chance to conduct a study with some colleagues in China that sorta addressed this issue. At minimum- it demonstrated my point which is emphasized in this post. Here is the citation for the paper.
Zhou, F., J. K. Tomberlin, L. Zheng, Z. Yu, and J. Zhang. 2013. Developmental and waste reduction plasticity of three black soldier fly strains (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) raised on different livestock manures. Journal of Medical Entomology 50: 1224-1230.
The basic premise for the study was to compare different populations from various regions of China and one population from the USA in terms of how they digested various wastes (e.g., conversion rates, turnover, etc) and how those wastes impacted their development and production. What we found was pretty cool for the BSF community- but not surprising.
These populations differed dramatically. Some populations were better at digesting poultry waste while others were better at digesting swine manure.
In addition, these populations responded differently in terms of how they developed and survived on these waste streams.
Here is the link to the paper if you would like to read it:
So what does it all mean? Well- the main point to this discussion is to suggest that you have some flexibility (exercise some caution) when reading results that someone else has generated as they might not translate to your population. You will need to determine what works best for your BSF population.
What should you do? The easiest thing to do is to keep records of what you feed your BSF larvae and what you produce (amount of larvae). Now, keep in mind, production will depend on how many larvae are in the bin in combination with environmental conditions (temp, humidity, light cycle) and food waste type to name a few. But, if you have some ideas of what produces the most larvae while recycling waste the best- stick with it. Avoid those things that cause larval die-off. But of course- continue to experiment on the side- maybe with a different unit.
What does this mean with regards to reading and applying information posted by others (I need to stick to the point, right)? Again, like I mentioned before- be flexible with how you approach your system and apply information you read online. Flexibility goes a long ways towards sustainable production of BFS.
I hope this information is useful. And until next time, best of luck and happy BSF farming!!
Jeff Tomberlin, PhD, BSF wrangler
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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