To promote SLU Youth Institute and the advantages for high schools becoming part of it, Viktoria Wiklicky was invited to talk about the Black Soldier Flies in their 2022 launching video. Fly larva composting is a tool to close the loop of a now linear food production system and aims to make food production more circular. Promoting the technology to the next generation will ensure that our passion and our ideas will be continued in the future.
SLU Youth Institute aims to create interest among Swedish youth for global food security and to find sustainable solutions to the global challenges based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The programme was founded 2020 and is part of the many Youth Institutes coordinated by World Food Prize Foundation. High school students engage with local leaders and experts to discuss critical global challenges, participate in hands-on activities, and explore exciting ways to make a difference in Sweden, across Europe and around the world. By the way, also the larvae showed their best side in the spotlight of the cameras and luckily, cameras cannot record smell (yet).
During a visit by two foreign ministry officials, that had a full day at SLU about current research they visited us in the Environmental engineering group. We had interesting discussions about closing the loop of plant nutrients and thereby increasing the resilience while decreasing the environmental pollution. We did also visit our two treatment systems for urine drying and for fly larvae composting and presented our research about producing fertilisers from our wastewater and animal feed from the food waste.
On the 8th of June, Alice Isibika successfully defended her thesis Use of pre-treatments and substrate blending to enhance process efficiency in black soldier fly larvae composting of food industry waste. External reviewer was Professor Sven Gjedde Sommer from Aarhus University (Denmark). The evaluation committee was Associate Professor Lara Maistrello from University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Area San Lazzaro (Italy), Dr Chrysantus Tanga from International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Kenya) and Docent Maria Westerholm from SLU here in Uppsala. The reserve in the committee was Docent Åke Nordberg from our own department. Alice got a lot of questions from both the opponent and the committee members, and the defense lasted from 1 pm till 4:30 pm. We think Alice did a great job and congratulate her on this achievement. We wish Alice the best of luck in her future endeavors, and hope that she will be able to apply what she studied in her thesis work also in practice when she returns home to Tanzania.
On Wednesday the 18th of May 2022, Alice Isibika nailed her PhD Thesis titled ‘Use of pre-treatments and substrate blending to enhance process efficiency in black soldier fly larvae composting of food industry waste’. Welcome to join her public defence of the Thesis that will take place on 8th of June 2022 at 13.00.
Abstract: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) composting is a biowaste treatment that converts biomass into valuable animal protein and fertiliser, but low protein content and complex molecules (e.g. fibre) in substrate reduce BSFL composting efficiency. This thesis evaluated the impact of using pre-treatments and blending substrates on BSFL process efficiency. The feasibility of using BSFL composting to treat available food industry waste streams in Tanzania and physical-chemical characteristics of these wastes were also assessed. The pre-treatments tested were biological, chemical, heat-based, biochemical and combinations of these, while blending involved mixing banana and orange peels with fish waste. All pre-treatments except heating and all substrate blends improved BSFL conversion efficiency in composting. The conversion efficiency was reduced by high concentrations of tannins, phenols, carbohydrates, fibre and fat, but increased by high protein and nitrogen concentrations. The available food industry waste from single companies in Tanzania, in quantities of ~100,000-1,000,000 kg y-1, was not sufficiently nutritionally balanced as a standalone feedstock for BSFL composting. However, with pre-treatment and substrate blending, BSFL composting could be successfully implemented to valorise biowaste streams in cities in low and middle-income countries such as Tanzania and other similar settings globally.
On the 13th of April a seminar on How to squeeze fat into a sustainable food future was organised by TABLE and SLU Future Food. Cecilia presented on using insects for fat production. Turns out her insects actually are quite good at synthesising fat; could they play a role in closing the fat gap? The fat gap is the gap between the total amount of fat needed for humanities nutritional needs and how much that is actually being produced. If you want to find out more about this, have a listen to the seminar.
On the 7th of April Cecilia held a presentation on the SLU lunch seminar series Worth knowing about how waste management can be linked with food production with the help of Insects. The spring lectures in the series can be seen here.
This month Kretsloppsteknik’s Cecilia Lalander and Björn Vinnerås published an editorial in Journal of Insects as Food and Feed about the hindrances that exist in the EU that prevent a true insect based closed-loop circular economy in the EU. The opportunity to write an editorial in JIFF comes as of Cecilia being one of the associated editors of the journal. Please, read the full editorial if you want to find out what actions we believe are needed for achieving a circular insect food production system in the EU.
Last week the Black Soldier Fly lab hosted a study visit for 25 students from the SLU Youth institute with a mix of Swedish, Bulgarian, Slovenian and Spanish students. We discussed the worldwide issue of waste generation, its impact on the environment, the globally increasing need for protein and the possibility to produce protein from waste. Black soldier fly composting will continue to be a valuable option to both reduce organic wastes and produce protein.
Timely with the decision from the EU to adopt a regulation that governs the production and use of insect frass on the EU market ((EU) 2021/1925) we have compiled a review article published in the Journal of Waste Management on state of knowledge of using BSF larvae frass as an organic fertiliser. We have outlined the advantages of using BSF larvae frass as organic fertiliser that has been found so far, discussed possible additional benefits that have not yet been demonstrated, pointed to some of the challenges that could be faced using this fertiliser as well as elucidated the gaps in knowledge that currently exist. If you want to find out more, read here.
In our latest publication on black soldier fly larvae (BSFL; Hermetia illucens) composting, we investigated the impact of pre-treatment on process efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. We evaluated BSFL composting of broccoli and cauliflower cuttings and orange peel with and without pre-treatment, and compared the results to those for food waste (control). The two pre-treatments we investigated were a 2 w inoculation with 1) the fungi Trichoderma reesei or 2) ammonia solution. The hypothesis was that the fungi would break down cellulose and hemicellulose to easily available carbohydrates, while the idea with the ammonia pre-treatment was that it would both break cellular structure and add nitrogen for the microbial community to assimilate into proteins.