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I have been trying to encourage my African contacts to consider using 'bugs' to deal with their waste.
Has anyone experience of using them in this way?
I know that composting worms are used in large waste converting plants in the USA
Hi graham84, - I have used vegetable & fruit pulp waste (which I think of as "organic" food waste, rather than agricultural crop field waste) to rear both earthworms & black soldier fly larvae. For the earthworms I always added some plant fiber (coir, pith from coconut husk) to absorb the "organic" waste fluid & for the black soldier fly larvae I gave them only food waste that was not sopping wet (1st weighted down waste in bucket with drainage holes).
From the earthworms I recovered friable matter with acceptable odour & from the black soldier fly larvae a residual quantity of odourous sludge. In general black soldier fly larvae reduce the volume of what they are fed (depending on what fed) & there is some residue.
Although I was not set up for it, this tactic that could be ideal has been suggested. Namely, feed black soldier fly larvae with food/agricultural waste to get larvae that can be fed to fish/poultry/etc. Then the residual components of that are mixed in with what is given to earthworms for conversion into worm "compost" that can be used on crops. Trying to rear earthworms as edible bugs is less practical in comparison to insect larvae due to pattern of life cycles & replication of harvesting issues.
Of course the residue from black soldier fly larval rearing can always be dispersed & dug into the ground where it will decompose; or that residue mixed in a regular (not vermi-compost) composting pile. Then there is no need to deal with an earthworm feeding step & creating a worm set-up (they'd do best when protected from extreme African seasonal rain/heat - like under low shelter exposed on at least one side if out in open air.).
The potential advantage in black soldier fly larvae rearing is they can handle animal dung as well (Forum thread Black Soldier Fly should have links to various manures' results as larval feed) while earthworms are sensitive to the heat &/or ammonia more than a little dung degradation generates. The main drawback of black soldier fly larvae is assuring there are eggs from a breeding adult fly population; while earthworms' eggs do not require any intervention.
If type into Forum ("web" version) search bar the word "Ghana" you can find references to & synopsis of (2015) "Bioconversion of organic fraction of solid waste using the larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermentia illucens)". One of the search results has a link to this thesis, but I do not know if it still works.