Why is Chapul Farms "Climate-Critical"?
Climate change mitigation is a race against time. Above all else, we are impact-driven. We developed climate-critical infrastructure technology that solves across the most important enviro-metrics, including closed-loop agricultural production, organic waste management, carbon sequestration, soil rehabilitation, biodiversity regeneration, plant health, alternative protein production, and economic development.
Insects leverage millions of years of microbiological evolution to process organic material into healthy protein and fat, add microbial life to agricultural soils, eliminate food waste, decrease agricultural GHG emissions, and decrease reliance on fossil fuel and unsustainable inputs to plant and animal agriculture.
Our solution is perhaps the most impactful, deployable tactic to address the climate crisis.
We agree with thought-leaders working to transition global economies into carbon-reconciling clean technologies saying: "We've seen a lot of rhetoric and little action."
We initially thought this was a technology problem. We've put time and money over the years into research and development. Then, we thought, maybe people don't know JUST how big the problem of climate change is. And how good for the economy this can be. Maybe we need to educate populations that green technology will not eliminate jobs, but, rather, create entire new fields.
...But then we realized this is a political problem. There's not a tech or cost barrier. There are plenty of commercially-ready technologies to deploy. We've already seen success in fields like solar and wind. But the issue is there are not political structures to incentivize the creation of these industries. These fields are currently crammed down as a threat. By political systems choosing self-destruction over sustainability, progress, and health.
Chapul Farms understands the challenges faced by companies that are impact-driven in today's global political/economic systems. Not only is our technology and the significance of its magnitude of impact complex (we've included some overviews below); we're also fighting out-dated stigmas and perverted systemic incentive structures. We need to join others continuing to:
- Debunk the myth that climate-critical technologies are in early stages and are high-risk investments
- Repeat the urgency of the climate crisis
- Demonstrate the not just hopeful but practical and proven technological advances that can offer solutions
- Debunk the myth that impact investing comes at the cost of business profit
What is Chapul Farms' Approach to Business Impact & Profit?
Given the global political and economic climate described above, Chapul Farms understands the challenges impact-led businesses like ours might face. To accelerate the deployment of our climate-critical technologies, we've created win-win-win solutions for the players we interact with. We offer solutions for:
- Impact investors who want risk-adjusted avenues that allow them to put money to work in the low-carbon economy as soon as possible. At this time, we've by-passed the early-stage, high-risk opportunities and are well into the mature, technologically-sound, commercially scalable technologies.
- Companies with organic waste streams that want to see sustainability gains AND profit gains (this is where our insect technology's ability to not just eliminate organic waste, but to upcycle it into 2 premium commercial products is critical).
- Poultry and aquaculture farmers that want feed sources with better nutritional and environmental outcomes (from our BSFL animal feed off-take product). BSFL feed has additional benefits, like reducing dependency on livestock antibiotics.
- Agriculture farmers that want nutrient-optimized, soil-regenerative, biodiversity-restorative premium frass biofertilizer (a.k.a the second off-take product from our BSFL - the bug poop).
- Local communities (and the planet) that want to live in a more sustainable, progressive, and healthy future.
What's the Impact?
Reducing food waste is one of the greatest opportunities to increase the viability of our current food system on a large scale. Addressing this issue can help us feed an exploding global population, reduce the environmental impact of modern agriculture, and minimize the resources lost in growing, transporting, and selling food.
Chapul Farms & United Nations 17 SDGs
1. No Poverty - Site selected in low-income urban development opportunity zone.
2. Zero Hunger - Increase food production with pre-existing and universally available resources.
3. Good Health and Well being - Insects are a complete protein with gut microbiome and immunological benefits.
4. Quality Education - Partnership in place with NSF and Universities to support academic advancements in entomology, microbiology, and food science.
5. Gender Equality - Seeking a 50/50 board split.
6. Clean Water and Sanitation - Contributes to the decrease in N runoff to waterways. Reduces eutrophication from aquaculture.
7. Affordable and Clean Energy - Modeled to scale with CSP solar energy to produce low cost caloric joules.
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth - Adding STEM jobs into urban growth areas.
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure - Developing innovative infrastructure to adapt to current waste management and food production objectives.
10. Reduced Inequalities - Empowering local and more diversified food production.
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities - A model of zero waste and closed--loop system design.
12. Responsible Consumption and Production - Inputs are primarily landfill diversions. Targeting a zero-waste facility.
13. Climate Action - Eliminating food waste is number 1 objective of project drawdown.
14. Life Below Water - BSFL replaces wild-caught Fish meal. Immunological benefits reduce need for antibiotics in aquafeed.
15. Life on Land - BSFL require 1,000x less land per unit of protein compared to soy.
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - Food insecurity and violent conflict inextricably linked. (FAO 2018)
17. Partnerships for the Goals - Established partnerships in place with non-profits, academia, and NGO’s.
Food producers are working hard to ramp up production to meet the needs of a world population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.
Mediha Aksoy, a microbiologist with the Aquatic Animal Health Research Laboratory (AAHR) in Auburn, AL, has increased the weight of farm-raised channel catfish by adding frass from black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) to their diet.
Why Frass, and Why Black Soldier Fly?
In general, farmers raise insect larvae to a certain age and then process them into protein meal and oil for biofuel, which are the primary end products of insect farming. But, as with other animal farming, there's the issue of what to do with the waste. It turns out that frass, which contains larvae waste, exoskeleton sheds, and residual feed ingredients, has excellent potential as a value-added product for insect farmers.
Black soldier flies can be mass produced and larvae can be raised on traceable organic waste products. They are also viewed as "farmed insects" that are non-pathogenic and do not pose a risk for human, animal, or plant health.
Once dried, BSFL frass resembles a crumbly soil and is loaded with nutrients, Aksoy said. "It contains about 18-21 percent protein, about 5-7 percent lipid, and its amino acid profile is better than that of corn meal and wheat short, making it an attractive candidate as a feedstuff."
Aksoy and AAHR scientists Benjamin Beck and Rashida Eljack added various amounts of BSFL frass to channel catfish feed and compared the results against fish that were fed a control diet without frass. Fish fed a mixture of 10 percent frass weighed significantly more, while fish fed 20 percent frass had the highest weight gain.
"Frass had a specific growth-promoting effect on channel catfish by increasing feed intake," Aksoy said. "It appears that frass is more palatable to fish than the control diet, which featured mainly plant-based ingredients."
Aksoy added that another potential benefit of a frass-rich diet was improved fish health and survivability.
"We were curious whether frass in fish diets would improve innate immune components and the resistance of fish against pathogens," she said. "Indeed, preliminary data suggest that frass can improve the survival of catfish and tilapia from bacterial diseases."
As the larvae grow into adults, they molt, which leaves chitin-containing exoskeletons behind. "Chitin doesn't act as an antibacterial; its presence prepares animals to better withstand pathogens by triggering their immune system," Aksoy said.
"Further, chitin may function as a prebiotic by selecting for 'good' bacteria that may prevent growth and colonization of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract," she added. "And other insect components and the microbes from the guts of insects might have health benefits for fish."
Why This is Good for Fish Farmers
Aksoy's research shows that replacing some of the plant-based ingredients in the diet with frass makes the diet more palatable to fish, thus increasing voluntary feed intake and growth. Fish food made with black soldier fly frass is currently available commercially.
"We also found that various blood parameters — hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red blood cell counts — were improved with inclusion of frass in the diet," Aksoy said. "This can help the fish cope with the daily and seasonal environmental changes that occur in farm ponds."
Aksoy and her team recently completed trials showing that frass was also effective in improving the growth of other species, such as tilapia and shrimp.
Areas of Impact
[add a bunch here]
50-70% of plant matter harvested is inedible and more than 30% of edible plant matter is wasted. Food waste is the most actionable source of GHG emissions (Drawdown, 2020).
Each year, one third of food produced for human consumption worldwide is wasted. The organic waste sitting in landfill sites generates 4.4 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases – directly contributing to climate change.
Food waste has a combined social, environmental and economic cost of $2.5 trillion annually, according to the United Nations. The U.N. identified food waste as one of the most impactful challenges to tackle.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production system with significant impacts to oceanic and riverine ecosystems. A primary feed input is fish meal - a volatile and diminishing resource.
How Chapul Farms Uses Insects in Closed-Loop Systems
Future Research Implications
Insects are midwives to entire ecosystems of beneficial microbes. Chapul biotech unlocks galaxies of microbes awaiting discovery. Current project development is underway in 1) Feedstock optimization, 2) Larvae nutritional optimization, 3) Lipid valorization, 4) Frass biofertilizer valorization, and 5) Aquafeed formulation. Immediate licensing opportunities exist with first Project Co’s.
Insect farming is a viable, immedniately scalable global redirect of an extraction-based agricultural industry to a more holistic, closed-loop model.
- Demand for Food Outstripping Resources: Our current food production processes are inefficient & unsustainable as a consequence of ever-increasing worldwide consumption.
- Quest for Nutrition, Sustainability & Transparency: Consumers are increasingly concerned about the importance of consuming nutritious/natural foods in order to live happier & healthier lives.
- The global population will hit 10B by 2050: We will be forced to reimagine resource allocation to combat widespread issues like Resource Depletion, Poverty & Hunger, Climate Change, Clean Water Access, Waste Management, Biodiversity, Soil Health...
- What if we could all eat locally grown food?
- What if we never threw away spoiled food?
- What if we could build farms in a flexible, modular way to perfectly meet our future food demand?
- What if we could empower farmers all over the world with tools that meet their needs?
Link to "Why Insects?"