Poo dares wins! Scientists investigate use of insect faeces as agriculture fertiliser
Scientists in Poznań are looking at ways of turning insect excrement into fertiliser.
According to experts, by 2050 agriculture will have to meet the nutritional needs of nearly 10 billion people. Given the devastation of agricultural land and global water shortages, one solution may be zero waste trends and alternative protein sources that will meet the growing demand without damaging the environment.
Dr. Zuzanna Sawinska from the Poznań University of Life Sciences said: “Contrary to popular opinion, agriculture is zero waste in many areas.
“Since the dawn of time, manure, i.e. waste from animal production, has been used with great success in production. Over time, composts, green fertilizers, digestate from biogas plants and, recently, sewage sludge were introduced for use as fertilizer.”
But the possibilities of using 'waste' in plant production do not end there.
Dr. Sawinska said: “We hear more and more about insects as a good source of protein in animal or human nutrition. What will happen with what the insects eat and their frass? The product is a natural fertilizer that can be used in agriculture, horticulture and hobby crops.”
Together with her team, Sawinska is now investigating how this can be done as part of a project for HiProMine 'Development of technology for the production of organic fertilizer (in the form of pellets/granules) based on Hermetia illucens frass and studying its impact on selected plants'.
She said: “The first research results are very promising; they indicate that it is possible to use Hermetia illucens frass fertilizer in the cultivation of winter barley, perennial ryegrass, lettuce or basil.
“We are currently testing different doses of this fertilizer, methods of application. We will also check how the research plants perform under drought stress when using this fertilizer compared to combinations, in which the Hermetia illucens frass fertilizer is not used. There are still many interesting observations ahead of us.”
PAP - Science in Poland
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