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Automatic Mealworm Farm

Commercializing and automating insect-based animal feed.

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Food
Commercial
Production
OUR TEAM
Sam GlicksteinFounder, Biotrophics, LLC
Vignesh
Libor Sloupensky
Arnav Vats
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STORY

Project Overview

This project is aimed at automating insect farms, which exist to provide a sustainable animal protein alternative for animal feeds in the aquaculture, pet, poultry, and swine markets. Automation of insect farms will allow for faster adoption of commercial-sized enterprises to satisfy a growing demand for (sustainably raised) meat.

Project Specifics

Insect:
The mealworm, or the larvae of Tenebrio molitor, is one of the few species already being grown on a large scale (along with crickets and maggots). It has a fantastic amino acid (protein) profile that is similar (and sometimes superior) to other meats humans and animals already consume

The Operation:
Industrialized mealworm farming simply looks like a hobbyist’s setup multiplied by several orders of magnitude; i.e. thousands of individual bins stacked vertically, each with a set density and amount of food and insects harvested within a given period of time. The labor involved in the maintenance and movement of these bins is the main reason that insect based foods/ingredients are still so costly.

Example of a current mealworm farm:

The lifecycle of the larvae:

Labor Required:
Maintaining the operation can be split up into the following, each of which have the potential for automation.

  1. Provide each bin with water in the form of fresh vegetable scraps (Carrots/potatoes) – every 1-3 days.
  2. Removal of frass (bug waste) – every 25 days.
  3. Addition of new food (wheat bran) – every 25 days.
  4. Separation of dead insects & shed exoskeletons – at harvest.
  5. Harvesting of insects for freezing (to kill), flash boiling (1 minute), and then dehydrating.
  6. Optional step of milling into insect flour
  7. Separation of eggs/hatchlings from adult bins, and subsequent transfer to growing area.

How To Receive Resume Credit

Resume credit will go to anyone who provides working results for this project, which will include my personal written endorsement of the contributor.

Teammates & Contributors I’m Looking For

Engineers & robotics, as well as software for automation.

Where I Need the Most Help

Engineering, robotics, and software. My knowledge is in biology and business, though I am a quick learner, and would like to be involved in every step of the way.

Why Sponsor This Project?

Aquaculture already accounts for 50% or more of all seafood consumed in the world. This trend is increasing by double digits every year. However, we are still feeding fish other fish, which is utterly unsustainable for both the industry and the environment. Increased demand, decreasing supply, and rising prices have contributed to a search for alternatives. Insects are one of those ideal alternatives.

Equity discussions are open for negotiation.

Why I’m Passionate About This Project

Sustainability in the food system has always been a passion of mine. It is simply one of the largest crises we are going to be living with in the near future. Considering insects also require very little water to grow massive numbers, the sustainability potential is huge. In addition, stability in sources of food and water are crucial in giving peoples and governments peace of mind; reducing potential conflict between regions and countries.


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