Q&A: What is the ideal size for a Black Soldier Fly pilot facility?

Set your objectives

The first question you need to ask yourself is, what is the purpose of my trial farm? If you just want to get acquainted with raising Black Soldier Flies and see it as a hobby, everything is fine. Most likely you will make a small insulated room and buy a small number of trays to try to grow the larvae.

If you have a commercial interest in breeding the Black Soldier Fly, there are some important things to consider:

  • Should the pilot generate interest from potential investors?
  • Should the pilot be representative of a commercial facility?
  • Is the sole purpose of the pilot to test possible waste stream combinations? 

Step 1, the pilot, must fit with step 2: the expansion. In other words, what do you need to show during the pilot to get the green light for step 2? There are many examples of farmers who start with a small volume of trays and gain lots of experience, but stop their business after two years because not enough thought is given to what is needed for taking the farm to the next step.

Start with the business plan

I dare say that you should not invest in a pilot if you do not have a clear picture of the purpose of the pilot facility. This sounds logical but the practice also shows that it still needs to be said.

In most cases it is a combination of the points mentioned above. The pilot must create additional funding to go commercial. To get this funding, the pilot must be as representative as possible compared to the future commercial facility. And a key gap in your business plan is what combination of raw materials to use and what conversion this gives.

This means that your pilot facility should be larger than your living room but smaller than an organic chicken farm. To concretize, you should keep a minimum of 250m2 of floor space in mind, with a maximum of 400m2. Variation in size also depends on whether you build from scratch or use an existing building. And whether you include, for example, the processing of the flies into insect protein and oil in the pilot plant or whether you do this externally. In addition, the system you use makes a large difference. Are you going for trays or ZOEM racks? With trays, you would need less space, but the ZOEM rack system would give a better understanding of how the farm would look on a commercial scale.

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