A project led by researchers at Harper Adams University has gained £1m in funding to start work on a fully modular insect farm.
With support from agri-tech firm Flybox, the project also received more than £760k from Innovate UK and Defra.
Together, the partners will create a farm that uses insects like black soldier fly larvae as a sustainable source of protein for commercial farming.
Academics from Harper Adams’ agriculture and environment, engineering and food, land and agribusiness management departments will contribute to the project.
“As the project progresses, we expect that it will not only provide valuable insights commercially, but will also widen our knowledge of alternative protein sources, their development and application,” said principal investigator Dr Jane Eastham.
“The potential of this project will go beyond its initial impact. From innovative ways of tackling waste to new insights into the use of the Internet of Things, we expect there will be many other insights our research can offer. Where appropriate, these can be used in our teaching, in knowledge exchange and at academic conferences as well as in developing the product itself.”
The partners hope that the project will integrate onto commercial farms as a source of animal feel protein in the future, offering a sustainable solution by reducing land use and food waste.
Up until this point, insect protein has not been utilised fully in the UK farming industry.
“Flybox aims to ease access to insect-farming technology, moving away from the era of exclusively centralised insect-farming facilities,” added Andrea Jagodic, co-founder of Flybox.
“Now with the funding provided by Innovate UK and Defra, we can push forward in our mission to facilitate sustainable farming practices and increase global food security, by unlocking insect farming on a wider scale for farmers that desperately need solutions today.”
In other news, food industry bodies have warned against laws that could allow an influx of battery eggs into the UK.