8 Sep 2016

No flies on new farm feed

10:47 am on 8 September 2016

Larva from the black soldier fly could being used as low-cost animal feed, indirectly providing nutrition for millions of people, according to an Australian scientist.

Larva from the black soldier fly.

Bryan Lessard: "The larva are actually quite nutritious" Photo: Supplied / Bryan Lessard / CSIRO

Bryan Lessard, an insect specialist at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), said flies were usually regarded as not being good for anything - but this was not true for the black soldier fly species Hermetia illucens.

Its larva could be grown in large fly farms and could feed livestock, which in turn would provide meat for humans.

"The larva are actually quite nutritious - they are about 45 percent protein and have many other nutrients like fatty acids, oils and even calcium. Some people have suggested we should transform these larvae into sustainable livestock feed for chickens, fish, prawns and even pigs."

Dr Lessard said the advantage of using the black soldier fly was that they were fast decomposers and could eat any sort of organic waste, mostly household or commercial food waste.

"They can eat rotting fruit, vegetables and even meat scraps and turn it into a rich source of vitamins and nutrients. So, not only are we reducing the numbers of landfills we are creating (for our waste), but we can also give farm animals a nutritious and sustainable feed."

He said at present, half the world's land surface was used for crops that feed animals, which in turn provided meat for humans.

Dr Lessard said a series of fly farms could reduce the scale of this.

Hermetia illucens - the black soldier fly

Hermetia illucens - the black soldier fly - could be farmed and its larva used as stock food, Dr Lessard said. Photo: Supplied / Bryan Lessard / CSIRO