Manure and grass clippings for insect farms

Published on
April 14, 2022

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) will research whether manure or grass clippings can be used in insect breeding. WUR will collaborate with public and private partners in this study. The insects can serve as a source of feed for chickens and pigs. This project, called Comysect, is a fine example of circular agriculture.

To make so-called waste streams such as manure, ditch and grass clippings suitable as a substrate for insect breeding, the researchers must first compost and ferment them and grow fungi on the compost. The substrate is then analysed to check if it is safe and rich in nutrients. If this is the case, insects may be used as an ingredient in animal feed, thus reducing the use of less sustainable feedstock (such as imported soy).

Unwanted substances

The project leans on the existing knowledge and expertise of the mushroom farming industry. A mushroom is a fungus, and fungi have the ability to break down or absorb unwanted materials. Unwanted substances, such as veterinary treatment residues in manure, can also be broken down in the composting process. Composting techniques in combination with fungi are also applied to make it easier for insects to process the wood-like elements in clippings.

The study aims to add value to “worthless” waste streams such as grass clippings and manure by making them suitable for the breeding of insects. Composting businesses can make a cheaper and more sustainable substrate for insect breeding, benefiting the breeders.

Through this project, WUR works on a relatively low-tech solution for high-volume biomass (such as manure and clippings) as a substrate for the growing insect industry. In doing so, WUR contributes to the circular economy in the Netherlands.