Chatter about Insect Critters
Dim lighting, warm humid air, and jars of white squirming creatures.
This is the inside of a typical insect farm. While it may initially induce a shudder, these farms aren’t as bad as you’d think! They are extremely clean, and the insect larvae help negate any pungent odours.
Insect farming has been becoming increasingly popular. More farms are popping up all over the world, including some located right here in Singapore!
Some reasons for this trend include:
1. Increased awareness of global food waste issue
2. Trendiness of composting
3. Upcycling (a current hot topic)
4. Insects as a more sustainable alternative protein
How exactly do these farms work?
Singapore’s first insect farm, Insectta, uses the larvae of black soldier flies. Adults and larvae are kept separate. Adults are in charge of reproduction, and the larvae, the actual composting.
The larvae feed on dead organic material and quicken the natural decomposition of food waste. This aids the breakdown of larger food pieces for digestion by microorganisms.
Insectta sources and obtains food waste from local restaurants and businesses. The waste is separated and sent into containers full of tens of thousands of eager, hungry larvae. After some time, the larvae excrete organic compounds that enrich compost. A nutrient-rich soil that can be used as superb fertilisers is formed!
Black soldier flies, with their short 6-week-long lifespan and high reproductive rates, are a popular choice in composting.
Their larvae can consume up to 4 times their body mass in a day! Their insatiable diets explain how 500kg of food waste is recycled at Insectta every day, by only 100kg of larvae.
The insects themselves are also profitable. The pupae are made up of 30% fat and 40% protein. After the larvae develop into pupae, they are converted into nutritious and sustainable feed for pets and livestock.
How does Insect Composting affect Singapore?
If you’re thinking that these insect farms are sparse and unimportant in Singapore, think again!
Food waste is all too relevant an issue, accounting for ~10% of the total local waste produced. Out of that, only 13% is recycled and the remaining 87% is incinerated. This is a problem that has been acknowledged by the government and is a main focus of the “Zero Waste” movement.
Singapore has been ramping up efforts, striving for a circular economy approach. This is where insect farming and composting comes in! These closed-loop farms recycle and reincorporate waste back into the food cycle.
In addition to it’s sustainable and cost benefits, it’s also an economic asset. By-products (eg. fertilisers, animal feeds) can be sold for profit.
Be a part of this too!
Wondering how you can get involved? Don’t fret if opening your own insect composting farm isn’t feasible! Other methods, such as starting your own compost bin, is manageable for most.
Pre-made bins with concise instructions are readily available for sale online with an abundance of tutorials on platforms like Youtube. Create your very own DIY bin! Be sure to take note of if the bin is meant to be outdoors or indoors before purchasing.
Some examples of pre-made bins include:
- Composting tubes by Zurich-based company, WormUp (CHF240, about SGD415)
- Hive Explorer boxes by LIVIN farms (USD149, about SGD210)
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Our motto these days during quarantine: Keep calm and carry on growing mealies 🤗🐛daily meditations include watching them grow, eat and wriggle around. daily excitements include beetle races and feeding time! soon soon #HiveExplorers will be on the way to your doorstep 💚 photo by @paris_tsitsos #recycling #waste #zerowaste #education #kids #STEM #eduscience #nutrition #environment #biology #teaching
DIY Your Insect Composting Journey
Another option is to just start your own! Simpler than it sounds, it requires only a small space, a container, and your waste. Just by drilling a few holes into your bin, elevating it, and turning your waste consistently, you’ll already have a basic compost bin.
Depending on whether you want it indoors or outdoors, you can use things like empty trash bins, buckets, cardboard boxes or even make your own boxes out of old wood!
Add worms or insects to help speed up decomposition and bin efficiency! Refer to the numerous online guides if you need aid in building your DIY bin, such as this one written by NParks.
Composting and insect farming is an alternative that’s efficient, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective. Let’s start viewing waste as a valuable resource that can be harvested and harnessed for a better, greener future!