Suppl. material to JIFF-2023.0008 - Standardising black soldier fly larvae feeding experiments: an initial protocol and variability estimates
There is a growing interest in the ability of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae (BSFL) to convert low-value organic residues into high-value products. This leads to more publications with conversion data for various organic resources. However, these results are rarely comparable between laboratories due to differences in study protocols. This hinders comparisons among studies, the use of results in practice, and overall advancement in BSFL conversion research. Therefore, a standardised research protocol was developed for nursing, rearing and harvesting of BSFL for feed assessment. The utility of this protocol, was assessed via an international ring test with 9 partners. One batch of Gainesville diet (wheat bran (50%), alfa-alfa (30%) and maize (20%)) was produced and distributed among the partners to avoid dietary variations. Five-day-old BSFL larvae were used for the growth trial with six replicates per partner. Average larval weight was assessed after 3 days, 7 days, and harvest (> 10% prepupae). Total yield and frass were recorded, and samples were chemically analysed to allow the quantification of the conversion efficiency. The results were used to calculate the within and between partner variability of the protocol. The results indicate that for the biological parameters (average weight, yield and density) the within partner variability was 24% and the between partner variability was 60%. For the assessed chemical parameters (N, fat, ash, P, K, pH), both the within and between variability was lower (respectively 9 and 28%). The results of this study give a first indication of the variability that can be expected within and between BSFL feeding experiments for different parameters and can therefore serve as guideline when developing a new experimental designs, assess standard operating procedures and other applications. The protocol can be used as first basis for future feed experiments, improving the comparability of results.