PROJECT

Developing and assessing a high quality fertiliser product based on black soldier fly frass

Enhancing crops with Black Soldier Fly frass

 

Black soldier fly farming (BSF) is an emerging industry that provides a low-cost waste management solution for converting agricultural waste into high quality fertiliser (using BSF casting residues or frass) and/or protein for animal feed (using BSF larvae).

Adoption of BSF technology and its products has potential to increase productivity and profitability via reduced input costs and generation of alternative revenue streams to a wide range of agricultural enterprises. However, the BSF fertiliser product cannot be developed further in Australia as an agricultural fertiliser until the environmental, agronomic and economic value of this product is fully evaluated and the mechanisms of how it works are fully understood.

For example, BSF frass has a high ammonium content which could result in nitrogen (N) loss following its application to land via GHG emissions, leaching, volatilization, and runoff. One solution is to further process the frass by coating it with other polymer waste materials from BSF farming.

These collaborative projects will work with industry and researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds to assess the potential to use BSF casting residues or frass as soil improvers or (slow-release, encapsulated) fertilisers in the agricultural industry. The students will be supervised by Dr Sasha Jenkins and others at the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment.

Project Goals

Three potential projects are available to evaluate the use of Black soldier fly (BSF) casting residue and frass as soil improvers or (slow-release encapsulated) fertilisers for enhancing crop and/or pasture growth in a variety of soil types. All projects will directly inform the future potential use of casting residue and frass at field scales.

As part of this project the successful PhD applicant will:

  • Conduct laboratory and pot trials on targeted pasture, broadacre, or horticulture crops to test the effectiveness of different forms of BSF fertilizer.
  • In Project A, students will use techniques associated with plant nutrition and plant-microbe interactions including molecular, soil and plant analysis. The agronomic (and economic) value of BSF frass will be assessed in the field in agronomic field experiments.
  • In Project B, experiments and ballistic modelling will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of different pelletisation formulations.
  • In Project C, nutrient and heavy metal leaching and uptake will be quantified and included as the basis of an ecotoxicological risk assessment.
  • You will be based in the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment – Agricultural and Resource Economics Group.

Research team leader - Associate Professor Marit Kragt

Interested applicants should send an Expression of Interest to Associate Professor Marit Kragt including:

  • Evidence of research training
  • Transcript of academic records
  • Up-to-date CV
  • If relevant, a copy of their English language publications
  • Recent English language test scores
  • A personal statement outlining your capability and interest in the subject

Collaborations and funding

External collaborators:

  • Australia Pork Limited
  • Future Green Solutions

Funding:

  • This Phd project will be funded through a R&D4Profit project that is administered by Australia Pork Limited

Handshake

PhD opportunities

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • A background in Agricultural Science, Soil Science, Plant Sciences, Biological Sciences or a related discipline
  • A background in organic or polymer chemistry with an interest in agricultural sciences will also be considered

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an applicationDifferent application procedures apply to domestic and international students.

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