Image credit: Compost Mania
We TreeHuggers have been known to get pretty excited about the rise of worm composting as big business. But one composting advocate is arguing that the next phase of compost evolution does not lie with worms, but grubs. Most notably, black soldier fly larvae. The idea, he says, is to use larvae to eat food scraps, and even raw meat and fish, and to turn them not just into plant nutrients, but a direct replacement for animal feed. Once you see what a bucket of larvae can do to two whole fish in a matter of hours, you may just be convinced.
Grub Composting Produces Animal Feed
In a presentation that was originally prepared for Will Allen's Growing Power, Robert Olivier of Compost Mania talks us through his "BioPod Plus", a product designed for turning food scraps directly into insect larvae, which can then be used to feed a wide variety of animals including chickens, fish and other pets.
Insects Become Direct Replacement for Soy
Having watched my chickens enthusiastically devour grubs from my compost heap, I am pretty sure they would love the idea of a regular supply of fresh insect grubs to chew on. And according to Olivier's presentation, 1square foot of grub composting can yield 35lbs of protein a year. Enough, he says, to replace a tenth of an acre of soy.
Grub Composting at Home
It's impressive stuff. The BioPod Plus retails at about $190 a piece—making it comparable to many commercially available composters out there. And given that this thing produces high value feed, not just plant nutrients, they may be onto something. The product blurb claims that mature grubs automigrate into a harvest bucket, eliminating the need to come into direct contact with the grubs, and that the whole system is designed to make grub escapes virtually impossible.
Any Risk of Fly Swarms?
My one question, as someone who already has a swarm of fruit flies hovering over his compost heap, is what happens if your chickens dont snap up every last grub you give em. Is there a danger of creating a fly farm in your garden? I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried this thing out. It seems like a natural fit for the DIY aquaponics enthusiasts out there.