AgriGrub, an East Cambridgeshire-based specialist in sustainable food waste solutions, has been awarded a grant of £29,292 by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.
The grant, which is part of the Agri-Tech Growth Fund, will contribute towards vital research and assist the upscaling of AgriGrub’s pioneering organic fertiliser and biopesticide production.
AgriGrub breed black soldier flies and their larvae. The larvae are fed waste vegetables and fruit and then sold to distributors of bird and reptile live-feed. The virtuous by-product of this process is frass, a sustainable source of micro-nutrients for seedlings and plants.
Frass, which is made of insect droppings, skin casings and organic carbon, helps bind essential micronutrients such as iron, calcium and manganese. Critically, a component of frass is sensed by plants which ‘tricks’ them into thinking they are under attack, and they increase their defences in response. It shows great potential as a biopesticide, offering protection without the need for harmful chemical pesticides.
These properties, combined with the way in which frass is produced, make it both a green and sustainable organic fertiliser, and biopesticide.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Agri-Tech Programme Manager, Martin Lutman, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support businesses like AgriGrub. The research that AgrGrub is undertaking is the type of leading edge project that the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative was set up to support.”
AgriGrub Managing Director Joe Halstead said: “This grant will enable AgriGrub to do the research needed to understand our products and look towards scaling up to meet demand.
“A critical part of this project is research into frass, a novel organic biopesticide which could have a dramatic impact on food production.”
The Agri-Tech Growth Fund is part of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative. The Initiative is run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority with support from New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, and the local authorities covering this area.
Grants are available to organisations looking to invest in specialist equipment, new market and supply chain development, ways to improve productivity and efficiency, and the application and commercialisation of Research and Development.