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Annual soy yields vs. crickets yields per m2

Hey forum,

Was doing some calculations today on crickets and decided to compare them to soy yields. Gave some pretty cool results!

According to my calculations (which, I will not further explain here, I'm sorry), I can produce 488,4 Kg crickets per m2 per year. At 20,5% protein, this makes 100,1 kg of protein per m2 per year.

Soy yields in 2012 (source: give the following numbers: Irrigated: 4.000 Kg/Ac/Year Rain-fed: 2.900 Kg/Ac/Year

1 Acre is ~4.047 m2, so for crickets, this makes: Whole crickets: 4.047 * 488,4 = 1.976.555 Kg per acre per year Protein only: 4.047 * 100,1 = 405.105 Kg per acre per year

This means that crickets utilize space 494,1 times more efficiently!

Of course, crickets use much more resources and are more expensive per Kg then soy. I just think that it gives perspective and especially hope to our situation :)

P.s. Does anyone know if the yields for soy are wet weight and if so, what is the wet weight protein content of soy beans? Makes it possible to compare protein yields to protein yields.


  • Hi EntoJesse, - Chart 5 of your link is preceded by this observation: "... soybean yield units on the right axis (19 to 65 bu/ac) ...." A bushel ("bu") is a measure of volume & in the volume of a single bushel 60 pounds of soybeans fit; different crops fit different weights inside 1 bushel.

    My calculation is that this means yields of 19 bushels x 60 pounds = 1,140 pounds = 517 Kg soy per acre at the low range & 65 bushels x 60 pounds = 3,900 pounds = 1,769 Kg soy per acre. In a bushel of soy the moisture content is standardized at 13% (at 12% moisture the seed coat cracks too easy during harvest & their ideal harvest moisture content is 14% so they can simply air dry). Soy protein content does vary & even year to year; your link gives a figure of 40% protein & this would take into account the eventual storage ideal of 12% moisture content.

    Link makes the observation that half of the nitrogen in soy comes from the plant's symbiotic nitrogen fixing bacteria ("...amino nitrogen ... for ...proteins ... uses nitrogen fixation ... to generate about half of its amino nitrogen ..."). On the other hand insect amino nitrogen has to be sourced from somewhere in the food chain apart from the insect; which should be accounted for when calculating the cost of initial production of edible protein.

    What are you suggesting for feeding those crickets that are compared to soy? This would be instructive for evaluating the gains in total protein collected in the different end products. It occurs to me that the space used to produce the insect's food items should also be considered; for example if they get grain & vegetation then that is part of the insect's production area.

  • edited December 2015

    Hi Gringojay, that is indeed my problem. The feed.. I have been working a lot on it and if you take into account mortality, it takes around 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of live crickets. This means you need around 6 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of dried crickets. This single kilogram thus comes with around 3 kg of faeces. If this faeces could be sold as biofertilizer, it might contribute positively to the high cost of the feed. We will never be able to get crickets to 0,30€/kg like soybean meal, but maybe €1,- will be possible with the right kinds of automation. I do know that we need to take the cricket apart in order to be somewhat profitable, like: oil for biodiesel, chitin for pharmaceutical industry, faeces for biofertilizer and eventually the high protein meal.

    As for the feed composition, I haven't found a clear solution to this yet. It is hard to formulate an oligidic diet that has 1/3 roughage AND is very cheap (preferably below 0,30€/kg).

  • For reference Purina Cricket Chow formula = Ground corn, wheat middlings, ground soybean hulls, dehulled soybean meal, porcine meat meal, porcine animal fat preserved with BHA, cane molasses, fish meal (menhaden), salt, calcium carbonate, dl-methionine, magnesium oxide, choline chloride, manganous oxide, zinc oxide, ferrous carbonate, niacin, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate (source of vitamin E), riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, vitamin A acetate, zinc sulfate, folic acid, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), vitamin B12 supplement. Sold in 40 pound paper "bag" ; contains min. of crude protein = 19%, crude fat = 5% & crude fiber = 8%. In U.S.A. sold for US$30.

    For simplicity let's say that formula's 19% of crude protein is attained from soy, fish & meat meal with the same cost & growing foot-print of soy beans. Now Purina Cricket Chow is 50% water soluble carbohydrates so, again for simplicity, let's say corn & wheat used has the same cost & growing foot-print. As for the 5% crude fat this can be considered already taken into account as tied to the protein ingredients & thus not requiring extra growing foot-print (ie: space for it's production).

    I'd like to know the land area needed to produce that 19% protein & 50% soluble carbohydrates. But no time right now to do that calculation myself.

  • Elsewhere in Forum pointed out that "... to assess edible content then figure 80% of the fresh weight of the "house" cricket is edible .... (&) actual edible "house" cricket salable product gives a feed conversion ratio of 1.68 ... then take into account the uneaten food left after they are harvested ..." the actual feed conversion worked out to 1.84 for edible weight. However, if "... use a variation of poultry feed diet for them in density of 14.4 ... get a better feed conversion ratio of 1.36 for edible weight."

    So, for simplicity, let's assume that Purina Cricket Meal is of similar quality as the referenced poultry feed diet & yet also account for there being uneaten food left after crickets are culled from their habitat. I will use the same % of convertible feed "wasted" as above, which is (ie: 1.68/1.84) 8.7% giving us a maximum feed conversion ratio for edible Acheta cricket weight of (1.37 + 8.7%) 1.59. Meaning the best estimate for Purina Cricket Meal would be that for every 1.59 Kg of the feed you get 1 Kg of edible cricket.

    Using Purina Cricket Meal as a reference feed it is 50% soluble carbohydrate (or was when product hit the market years ago), 19% protein, 5% fat, 8% fiber, 9% ash, max12% moisture + trace vitamin/mineral supplementation; which comes out to 103% so I'll just assume some of the ash is in the other components for simplicity. Now, using the assumption I proposed in the preceding post that the cost of the protein + the fat is equal to the cost of soy protein & the cost of the carbohydrate + fiber is equal to the cost of corn maybe we can get a better idea of how much it costs to get 1 Kg of edible cricket (when skip assigning cost to vitamin/mineral supplements for simplicity).

    Today (16 Dec. 2015) Illinois grain buyer's paid an average of US$8.58 for a bushel (60 pounds = 27.22 Kg) of soy with 13% moisture content & paid an average of US$3.61 for a bushel (55 pounds = 25.4 Kg) of shelled corn with 15.5% moisture content costs. Which works out to US$ 0.32 per Kg of soy & US$ 0.14 per Kg of corn. Returning to the Purina Cricket Meal for every 1 Kg of the formula 19% is protein )& using soy cost for all that protein (& the "fat" oil tied up in the soy) works out to the protein value being US$ 0.06 (0.32 x .19) & for every 1 Kg of the formula using corn cost for all that 58% carbohydrate (fiber + soluble carbohydrate) works out to the carbohydrate value being US$ 0.08.

    Although very simplified this indicated that each Kg of cricket meal made needs to use about US$ 0.14 of protein & carbohydrate in agricultural raw materials. Purina surely buys freight car volumes of soy & corn so if I can buy their cricket meal bag for US$30 then figure this gives the seller $10; meaning Purina sells it to their distributors for US$20. As product manufacturer if they get the protein & carbohydrates for US$0.14 per Kg that amounts to those raw materials costing Purina a minimum of (0.14 x 18) US$ 2/52/ 40 pound (18 Kg) sack of 18 Kg. Thus if Purina gets 1/3 of the customer price in profit they need to make US$10 & if 1/3 of the customer price is US$10 in product expenses then U$7.48 of the product is due to labor, packaging, overhead, etc. + US$2.52 in soy & corn.

    The above calculation (& my over simplification relegating protein cost to just soy) works out to be that if you are growing/harvesting your own soy & corn (protein, fat & carbohydrate) you would be able to produce basic ingredients in 1 Kg of cricket meal for US$. Now, if you need 1.59 Kg of feed to get 1 Kg of edible cricket this means you need raw farm products with no middle man mark-up that is worth US$0.22 (0.14 x 1.59) for each house cricket (edible) Kg.

    I'll try to get to the land area issue in another comment. Anyone welcome to check my above math for gross errors.

  • Hi EntoJesse, - Just reviewed your number of 488.4 Kg cricket/mt.2/yr. & got a daily production rate of 1.34 Kg/mt.2/yr. which works out at 20.5% protein to be 0.28 Kg cricket protein daily per mt.2. In other terms that is 280 grams or over half a pound (0.62#) of protein every day of the year in a mt.2.

    If we use the old school simple formula of an adults minimum protein requirement being one's weight in pounds divided in half & the resulting number assigned as grams then can make the following assessment. An adult 6 ft. tall non-obese male weighing 175 pounds needs (175/2) 87.5 grams of protein; if this protein was supplied by cricket protein then 0.3125 mt.2 a day could produce that.

    By extrapolation, & without having accounted for how much land is needed to produce those crickets feed stock , this means that in one year that same 6 ft. tall non-obese 175 pound male's total protein needs 114 mt.2 worth of cricket raising. Using your 4,047 mt.2/ acre means that the crickets reared in 1 acre can supply the total annual protein needs for 35.5 adult 6 ft. non-obese males.

    Comparing this to soy bean with 40% protein content which yields 517 - 1,769 Kg/acre or 517,000 - 1,769,000 grams/acre; or comparison purposes yields 127.75 g/mt.2 - 437 g/mt.2 of soy beans. Thus, soy at 40% protein will generate 51 gr./mt2 - 175 gr/mt.2 of soy protein in one crop.

    Since generally one soy crop per year is grown that hypothetical 175 pound adult's annual protein need of 31,938 (365 x 87.5) requires from 626 - 183 mt.2 of soy production area. Which, depending on soy productivity, means soy raised on 1 acre can supply the total annual protein needs for 6.5 - 22 adult 6 ft. non-obese males.

    Ideally my math so far is correct & encourage someone to check it if seems off. I'm doing this via small laptop computer typing & keep thinking I have missed some factor, but want to finish up. Of course we still need to factor in the land area needed to produce the cricket's feed.

    If above correct what this means is that, depending on soy crop yield, an acre dedicated to cricket rearing can produce anywhere from a high of 5.5 times to 1.6 times more protein for a 6 foot non-obese adult. Before ending comment it should be stated that the low range of 1.6 is based on 60 bushels soy/acre & that yields of 50 bushels or over of soy/acre is considered uncommon.

  • Returning to the estimation of cricket feed's footprint let's look at my simplified model whereby soy protein is used as the single proxy for 19% protein in a sample feed formula modeled after Purina Cricket Chow. In earlier post I suggest 1.59 Kg feed gives 1 Kg of edible cricket & thus to get that edible Kg the cricket must consume 0.30 Kg (.19 x 1.59) of protein.

    To produce 0.3 Kg of soy protein takes

  • Returning to the estimation of cricket feed's footprint let's look at my simplified model whereby soy protein is used as the single proxy for 19% protein in a sample feed formula modeled after Purina Cricket Chow. In earlier post I suggest 1.59 Kg feed gives 1 Kg of edible cricket & thus to get that edible Kg the cricket must consume 0.30 Kg (.19 x 1.59) of protein.

    To produce 0.3 Kg (300 gr.) of soy protein requires crop land of 5.9 mt.2 (if soy yield = 19 bushel/Acre) - 1.7 mt.2 (if soy yield = 60 bushel/acre). In other words, the best case feed footprint of the protein (ie: soy as surrogate) fed to crickets in order to get 1 Kg of cricket protein is 1.7 mt.2.

    Earlier calculation (see above) was that each day 1 mt.2 yields 280 gr. cricket protein; thus, 3.57 mt.2 (1,000/280) a day is occupied producing 1 Kg of cricket protein. While a minimum of 1.7 mt.2 crop land for the soy protein fed those crickets has to be accounted for; meaning 5.27 mt.2 (1.7 + 3.57) could be considered the minimum land required to downstream harvest 1 Kg cricket protein. On the other hand, if rely on minimally productive soy land that footprint goes up to 9.47 mt.2 (5.9 + 3.57).

    Bear in mind this is a range of the cumulative land footprint (5.27 - 9.47 mt.2) for 1 Kg. cricket protein per day when accounting for the protein involved in that 1 Kg production's food chain. Since the context is per day & soy protein is not generated in a day this needs to be adjusted for.

    An over-simplified adjustment is to multiply by 365 days the soy area involved since only one soy crop per year is the norm. Looked at this way just the soy protein contribution to keep crickets churning out 1 Kg daily one has used anywhere from 620.5 mt.2 (1.7 x 365 if 60 bushels/acre) - 1,923.6 mt.2 (5.27 x 365 if 19 bushels/acre). Once we add the cricket's own land requirement 3.57 mt.2 to rear 1 Kg cricket protein the total protein production footprint can be in the range of 623 mt.2 (620.5 + 3.57) or up to 1,927 mt.2 (1,923.6 + 3.57).

    OK, so to get 1Kg cricket protein a day uses the space of 623 - 1,927 mt.2. The next issue is to compare that footprint to soy protein production which once a year yields soy protein at the rate of 51 - 175 gr. soy protein/mt.2; equivalent to 1 kg of soy protein grown in anywhere from 19.6 mt.2 (1,000/51) - 5.7 mt.2 (1,000/175) once a year. To get soy comparison the soy protein footprint has to be coordinated with the cricket protein's daily frame of reference.

    To produce 1 Kg of soy protein a day would be like using 2,080.5 mt.2 (5.7 x 365) - 7,154 mt.2 (19.6 x 365) of land used once a year. To produce 1 Kg of cricket protein including the hypothetical soy protein daily fed to it uses the equivalent of 623 - 1,927 mt.2 daily according to my quick calculations (assuming I made no errors).

  • I think multiplying the soy by 365 for single harvest isn't right. Its grown year round on different field, and after harvest used to grow more nitrogen hungry crops, so the land isn't wasted so much as growing a different nutrient set. This may be different in some cold areas, but areas with hard winters grow grow grow.

    I think a worst case scenario would be 150 days.

    I would also think soybean is a better suited protein source to more picky animals. For crickets things like sweet potato foliage would maybe be more logical. It hits around the right percent protein, grown in huge quantities, I'd machine possible in the field and not many people utilize it so far. Only risk would be pesticide residue.

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