Black Soldier Fly Larvae as a Compost Accelerant
Hemetia illucens, Black soldier fly (BSF), are flies native to Tennessee that can be utilized in a closed-loop, compost accelerant system. In the summer of 2019 The University Farm successfully implemented and ran a BSF system The goal was to create a sustainable system where food waste is more quickly broken down and converted into compost. Another major goal was to test viability of the system itself. This type of system is generally unknown and understudied. This means that there is little previous research done and the system implemented at the University Farm is somewhat based on trial and error.
We also wanted to understand the true capacity of the system and how much compost could be used weekly. In the end we wished to Increase the amount of compost collected by the University Farm from McClurg dining hall and Sterling's’ Coffee House. To collect the data and configure the system, we went and picked up food waste from McClurg and Stirlings’ Coffee House. Then, we brought the food waste back to the farm and sorted through it. We removed most dairy and then filled two five gallon buckets with the food waste. This would then be equally distributed among the larvae in feeding bins. This process would be repeated daily, the older larvae would then eventually begin to consume at a faster rate and need to be given an increased amount of food waste. It was made apparent through the BSF system that much more research needs to be done. The concept is still in its early building phases. In order to grow the system and work at a higher capacity, there needs to be an improvement of the facilities in which the system is located. Looking forward, there is ample room for growth. As the system grows it will gain the ability to make a sufficient impact on the food waste intake that the University Farm is able to manage.