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Ammonia emissions related to black soldier fly larvae during growth on different diets

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-02-29, 08:20 authored by C.L. Coudron, S. Berrens, M. Van Peer, D. Deruytter, J. Claeys, S. Van Miert

Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) is considered a farmed animal. The larvae live in a moist substrate, which leads to a complex interaction with the microbial community. As such the combined metabolism of the insects and that of the microbial community can ultimately lead to all sorts of emissions such as ammonia and greenhouse gases. For ammonia emissions and associated depositions, it is known that this can lead to eutrophication of local ecosystems and the formation of particulate matter which can affect human health. This issue is known for intensive livestock farming where in some Western European countries this has led to specific regulations, for example limited number of livestock per farm, to control ammonia emissions. The production of black soldier fly larvae is a novel activity that could similarly lead to ammonia emissions. This study introduces a new method to quantify ammonia emissions in an industrial setting using an accumulation chamber and validates the findings with a nitrogen mass balance. Additionally, different feed substrates (Gainesville diet, chicken feed, artificial supermarket waste and brewers spent grains) were assessed with varying crude protein concentrations, hypothetically one of the driving factors affecting emissions. Results indicate significant ammonia emissions, the total emissions during larval growth ranged from 2.6 up to 83.6 g N/kg larvae (dry matter basis) and depend strongly on the diet. The rates at which these emissions are produced are negligible during the first three days. In the following days all diets emitted ammonia at a varying rate. The highest observed hourly emission rate for test substrates could be as low as 6.8 mg N/kg initial substrate (dry matter basis) and as high as 306 mg/kg. Different properties of the feed, such as the initial crude protein concentration, but also how the pH changes throughout larval growth, will affect emissions.


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