Maggots and rotting food waste: a new recipe for sustainable fish and animal feed

Maggots and rotting food waste: a new recipe for sustainable fish and animal feed


Entomics Biosystems is built around
this core concept of insect bioconversion whereby insects can eat food
wastes and other different types of waste biomass and biochemically convert that into fats and proteins, which are great sources of nutrition for the animal feed
industry. Here in Entomics, very specifically we focus on enhancing and
tailoring these insect derived feeds to create functional benefits for certain
targeted applications. So what we have here are black soldier fly larvae
and they’re chewing through food waste and metabolizing it very efficiently
into proteins and fats as they grow. They grow about 5,000 times their own body
weight over the course of two weeks, so a very efficient conversion engine, and the
proteins and fats from these insects are a really interesting sustainable
high-quality ingredient for the farmed salmon industry, given that farmed salmon in Scotland for example are currently fed on fish meal
which comes from wild caught anchovies from as far away as Chile in Peru which
are then shipped across the world to Scotland. So insects represent a nice
sustainable solution. Each week we pick up several tons of food waste from local
supermarkets and food processing operators. We feed the insects different
recipes under controlled conditions and test the differences in growth rates and
end nutritional profiles. So what we’re doing here in this room is
essentially gathering data on a pretty complex biological system so that we can
build out a smart autonomous system for insect production in the future. So Entomics Biosystems is an insect biotechnology company and it was formed by a couple of University of Cambridge students a few years ago and it really
was one of those stories where we came together basically at the pub over a
pint talking about weird ideas, and the team actually comes has members from the Department of Biochemistry, from Engineering, from the Business School, so
it really was a very diverse skill set but it’s one of those weird businesses
which kind of needs that input from different disciplines. So we’ve developed
a bio-processing step which allows us to optimize and tweak these types of insect
based profiles to target specific nutritional applications for specific
animals. What Entomics is largely focusing at the
moment is the advanced processing of the maggots, of the insect biomass if you
could put it that way, and we’re doing that by using a process that we’ve
fancily code-named metamorphosis. In more lay terms we’re essentially fermenting
the insect biomass and the various fractions of an insect, this being protein fats and chitin, which is the shell of the insect, and there’s
several benefits of doing this process from affecting the gut’s
microbiome and trying to preserve a healthier community there to training
immune systems to make livestock more resistant to disease challenges and at
the same time reduce the need for veterinary medicines, antibiotics and
vaccines. So right now we’re doing a lot of work with partners like the University of
Stirling, who are world leading salmon aquaculture experts to validate and test
some of these products in the field. And it’s a really interesting area in general and there’s so much potential in terms of other applications around
insect biotechnology and using insects as a vehicle for creating high-value
products and services, and as an example we’re also working on machine learning algorithms to try and track behaviors of insects during the
production process and trying to understand really complex datasets in
terms of how they behave and how we can actually optimize
different types of engineering systems to address that. The world’s looking for
more sustainable sources of feed and I think increasingly there’s a recognition that
it’s not just about basic nutrition but it’s about overall health. So I think
we’re really trying to take a sustainable promising ingredient
of the future – insect derived feeds – and trying to add a bit of biotechnology
or science focus to it to really enhance what the effect is in the end
application and reduce reliance on traditional antibiotics and veterinary
medicines.

6 thoughts on “Maggots and rotting food waste: a new recipe for sustainable fish and animal feed

  1. Very interesting! If "you are what you eat" is important: the salmon should feed off smaller fish, plankton etc. Do the maggots eat rotting fish etc., to keep the cycle going; how does it work? It's probably a silly question; I'm just curious.

  2. Bravo! Very exciting work. I hope as your work progresses, you have a strong communications plan to disseminate your findings/opportunities, and not just through peer-reviewed literature.

  3. I find it very interesting
    Actually, its time for Tanzanian Youths to start thinking on how we would keep our environment clean by using home wastes to feed maggot(rich in protein) and thus produce fish meal, manure and other animal meals

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