This project is aimed at automating insect farms, which exist to provide a sustainable animal protein alternative for human consumption in the form of insect flours, meals, and other ingredients. Automation of insect farms will allow for faster adoption of commercial-sized enterprises to feed an increasingly hungry world.
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
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:
Maintaining the operation can be split up into the following, each of which have the potential for automation.
- Provide each bin with water in the form of fresh vegetable scraps (Carrots/potatoes) – every 1-3 days.
- Removal of frass (bug waste) – every 25 days.
- Addition of new food (wheat bran) – every 25 days.
- Separation of dead insects & shed exoskeletons – at harvest.
- Harvesting of insects for freezing (to kill), flash boiling (1 minute), and then dehydrating.
- Optional step of milling into insect flour
- 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?
The edible insect market is set to become a $60BB global market by 2025 (see graph below). Seeing as it is in its infancy in 2017, this is a prime opportunity to get involved in this new and exciting market. Without sustainable protein to feed global populations, demand for livestock will reach impossible levels, far beyond the stretched limit we require even today. Entering the edible insect market at ground level is a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in green business and sustainability.
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.