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Former poultry shed to be converted into sustainable larvae farm

22 October 2021

Kinrooi-grown larvae as an innovative source of protein

Global Link Projects, a company that is fully committed to bringing about the agriculture of the future, has requested an environmental permit to farm larvae. These larvae — of the black soldier fly — will be housed in a vacant poultry shed, where they will grow on residual waste flows from the agro-food sector, turning them into a sustainable source of proteins and fats. This innovative and sustainable farm marks the first step in the creation of a circular agriculture project on the Agropolis site.

The black soldier fly is originally an exotic species that is not native to our region and that can only survive in tropical temperatures. That said, it is not the flies that turn this cultivation project into an attractive prospect, but their larvae. Sabine Van Miert, Research Manager at Thomas More University of Applied Sciences, tells us more: “The larvae are ideally suited for converting low-value residual waste flows into a high-value end product. They are extremely rich in proteins and fats, among other things, meaning they are perfect for use as animal feed.” The most obvious applications include chicken feed, fish feed and even pet food.

GL-Projects: a vision of the future

The activities of Global Link Projects, or GL-Projects for short, focus on the agriculture of tomorrow, and the company is acting as the driving force behind the farm. A belief in sustainable and innovative agriculture is evident for all to see in founder Dirk van Eersel: “We’re seeing the agriculture sector face huge challenges, and it is often portrayed negatively in the news. What we’re trying to do with this project is put forward a positive story and contribute to the agriculture of the future.”

The larvae farm will be housed in a vacant poultry shed. The installation currently there will be dismantled in full, and the shed will then be fitted out with the latest technologies: the larvae must be farmed in sealed boxes to make sure not a single fly or larva can get away. On top of that, significant investment is being made in climate control and air conditioning to make sure the larvae can be housed in ideal rearing conditions. Research has shown that larvae need a constant temperature of 27°C, so all heat and air needs to be kept inside as much as possible. Good for the larvae and good for the environment all at once!

Environmental permit submitted

The Municipality of Kinrooi will shortly be receiving an environmental permit application for the conversion of the vacant poultry shed. Mayor Jo Brouns comments: “A project like this will put our town on the map in terms of the agriculture of the future; a sector that’s close to our hearts in this town. We’re making sure we’re involving our farmers and others in the vicinity in this story, so we can build a groundswell of support for the project.” Local residents were given a first glimpse of the plans on 21 October. If all goes well, GL-Projects expects to be fully up and running by the end of 2022.

Circular agriculture project at Agropolis

The larvae farm is the first piece of a completely new activity to be established at the Agropolis site. The eventual aim is to set up a circular agriculture project, in which low-value residual waste streams from the agro-food sector are collected and transformed into high-value raw materials in a circular way. “We’re working together with GL-Projects on a cluster project containing different activities that key into one another and that enhance one another. Examples include a bioenergy project, a larvae and algae farm, and possibly a greenhouse and fishery project too. The output produced by one element can be turned into a valuable resource for another and so on”, Kristof Das, Manager at Agropolis, explains.

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