Meet the maggot farmers

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, The Maggot Masters

meet the maggot farmers

Olympia Yarger is an award-winning insect farmer. The founder and CEO of Canberra-based company Goterra, she is helping to redefine the world's approach. The Fly Farmer. Duration: How to mince a maggot. Duration: See all clips from The Maggot Masters (3). Broadcasts. Wed 20 Sep Local. Jul 31, A maggot-breeding device developed by Katharina Unger, in Vienna, will need to increase by 50 per cent to meet population increase.

In the incubator, we put the egg flutes on a small wire platform above a tub of wet chicken feed. When the larvae, or maggots, hatch they fall into the feed and are then collected and taken to the growing rooms.

The Maggot Masters

Olympia feeds food waste to larvae. We manage the temperature so we get even production all day and all year, just like a greenhouse.

meet the maggot farmers

Larvae feasting on cheese at Goterra. Black soldier fly larvae are robust consumers, rapidly converting food waste into nutrients. Every tonne of larvae requires 5 tonnes of food waste for the day growth cycle.

meet the maggot farmers

This creates kg of larvae meal and kg of frass [larvae excrement]. The type of waste we feed affects the protein quality of the maggot, but we care about processing the waste first and foremost, so we manage larvae the same way any farmer manages their crop — we sell the better quality protein accordingly.

Did you know that one tonne of black soldier fly larvae consumes five tonnes of food waste in 14 days? We then euthanise the larvae using carbon dioxide and dehydrate them to be used as livestock feed. At the moment our dehydrated larvae product is being used in pet food as well as for feed in aquaculture and pork farming. We allow other grow bins of larvae to naturally progress to the pupae stage, where they go black and emerge from the food waste after 14 days. When larvae are becoming pupae they want a dry place to begin the process of turning into a fly, and they self-harvest by crawling up out of the waste and falling through a hole in the grow bin into a green harvest bin.

Each day we collect the pupae and take them to the aviary where over the next couple of days they grow legs and wings and turn into flies.

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Olympia checking pupae in the harvest bins. I check these each day to make sure everything is okay and if it is a feeding day, I give them waste.

Feeding is based on average consumption, so we know how much to put in to last a certain amount of time. There are currently varying and inconsistent regulations relating to insect protein for use in livestock feed and also in the use of post-consumer food waste.

We spend a lot of time cleaning and washing buckets and we do this thoroughly and make sure we are organised for the next day. Just like any other waste collection service, we collect some waste and have other types dropped off.

meet the maggot farmers

How often we receive waste depends on the type. Some we get every day, others, like office waste, we get once a week. Now his student, Katharina Unger, is trying to use industrial design to make insects a delicacy. Hide Caption 2 of 8 Photos: Life of fly — Not only did Unger have to contend with the typical design challenges of aesthetics and manufacturability, she also needed to become an expert in the reproductive habits of flies.

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Hide Caption 3 of 8 Photos: Tasty bugs — While researching the concept, Unger found she didn't mind the taste of bugs, but the feel freaked her out, so she designed the system so the insects were never in users hands.

Hide Caption 4 of 8 Photos: Maggot migration — Maggots march themselves into stomachs, by way of a collection bin. Tomato and larva risotto — Black soldier flies are an ideal insect to eat — they reproduce quickly and will "harvest" themselves if the right structure is in place. Hide Caption 6 of 8 Photos: Protein power — You may not like the result, but simple calculations show bugs at the top of the protein power rankings.

meet the maggot farmers

Hide Caption 7 of 8 Photos: Making a buzz — So, will Katharina Unger's maggot making appliance fly off the shelf? It mite bee a while.

meet the maggot farmers

Hide Caption Story highlights Austrian designer Katharina Unger made an appliance that harvests insects for us to eat Over 18 days black soldier fly eggs reproduce to make 2. That requires a special level of skill.