Animal agriculture researchers to investigate insect biotechnology

The Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock’s (CIEL) National Pig Centre will partner with 'insect technology company' Entocycle to research the circular use of insects in farmed animal feed.

The research will investigate both the rearing of insects on pig manure and the results of feeding those insects to the livestock. Based on previous research, the study hopes to prove that the use of insects in this way will reduce pollution while improving animal health and meat quality.

“Insect biotechnology has huge potential to provide future solutions to on-farm management of manures and slurries, as well as reducing carbon emissions”, said Dr Gesa Reiss, Smart Agri-Systems Senior Innovation Fellow at the University of Leeds. Dr Reiss works within the Global Food and Environment Institute.

This partnership will bring together our collective talents and expertise to address significant environmental challenges, such as waste management, food sustainability and climate change.

Dr Gesa Reiss

Entocycle will introduce a self-contained insect-raising unit to the CIEL National Pig Centre at the University of Leeds. This unit, funded by UKRI-BBSRC on behalf of UK Research and Innovation, will be used to evaluate the use of pig manure and slurries as a feedstock for black soldier fly (BSF).

Supporting net zero

Animal agriculture is known to have a highly negative impact on the environment. It’s the biggest cause of river pollution in the UK according to the Environment Agency.

One reason it’s so damaging is the high levels of phosphate and nitrate found in animal waste, which ends up in local waterways.

The researchers at the University of Leeds and Entocycle hope to decrease this effect, in part because when insects are raised on manure, they remove some of those toxic nutrients.

In contrast, the waste from the insects may be useful as fertiliser for other agriculture, as it contains essential minerals.