|Black Soldier Fly Forum
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|Author:||Jerry [ Thu Aug 08, 2013 7:05 pm ]|
|Post subject:||BSF Bio-composter|
This is the unit that I make and sell. To buy one click here: LINK
6 gallon BSF Bio-composter 500px.jpg [ 138.89 KiB | Viewed 3677 times ]
*Currently shipping to the U.S. including Puerto Rico.
The BSF Bio-composter
This black soldier fly (BSF) composter is made using a 6 gallon (23 liter) latch box, and has a working (wet) capacity of 5 gallons. We plan on offering a larger composter soon, but this small unit will process approximately 2 pounds (1 kg) of food scraps per day depending on several factors such as type of waste, ambient temperature, colony density, proper maintenance, etc.
I’ve been working with BSF larvae since 2007 and during that time I’ve experimented with several composter designs. This efficient and inexpensive unit is the result of that research. You can see details about the features of this unit by scrolling down on this page.
This is a new design and refinements are constantly being made at this point. I will try to change the photos frequently, but you should expect the unit you receive to be a little different from any photos on this site.
Optional BSF starter kit
A starter kit containing 2000 black soldier fly eggs is available for an additional $15 and will be shipped with your Bio-composter. Compared to other sources for BSF larvae this represents an unusual value. In most cases the eggs will have hatched during shipping so you can immediately begin your colony. The presence of juvenile (light colored) BSF larvae in waste is a powerful attractant for BSF females seeking egg laying sites. By receiving very young larvae you will be maximizing the time that these larvae spend developing in your composter, thereby improving the odds of attracting egg laden females from your local population. Our kit comes in a container which will allow you to observe the tiny larvae as they grow and eventually migrate into the larger quantity of waste in your composter.
Advice about any aspect of using this composter is available at our forum. This is much better than answering questions via email because everyone benefits by making the answers public. Another benefit of the forum is that the entire community is able to answer questions so a wider knowledge base is available. Registering and posting comments on the forum is a simple process and we will be happy to help with the process as needed.
Included with the composter
Hardwood Charcoal (biochar) – The charcoal goes in the composter first, loosely covering the horizontal drain pipe. You don’t need to be fussy about placing it, but having a layer over and around the horizontal pipe may improve drainage. In theory, charcoal has several advantages in a BSF composter. If you would like to research biochar this article is a good place to start: LINK
Coir chips – This unit was designed for use with fine grade coir chips (coconut husk). This is a different form of coir than the more common powdered material usually sold in bricks. Each composter will come with enough coir chips to make a layer about 2 inches (5 cm) deep which should be added to the composter on top of the charcoal, and before adding any waste. This should be enough to keep the compost draining well until it fills up. More coir chips will be needed to restart the unit, although there are probably other bulking materials that could be substituted, such as wood chips, sphagnum moss, etc.
We use FedEx ground and our goal is to ship within 3-5 days.
Orders with the optional starter kit may take extra time depending on the breeding cycle of our local BSF. For those receiving starter kits, it is important to provide a shaded area where the FedEx driver can leave the package.
Assembly consists of bolting the two lid pieces together, attaching the lizard barrier and optional drain tube/valve.
This system has been proven to provide superior drainage when combined with coir chips in the waste. The slots in the pipe are better than circular holes for containing the compost while allowing effluent (liquid waste) to pass through. This provides good filtration without the problems associated with filter pads, screens, etc. Blockages in the drain plumbing are easily cleared by flushing with water or by using a wire to loosen it. The perforated pipes also allow air to reach the lower levels of the waste and therefore help control anaerobic bacteria. The larvae aid in keeping the slots open by constantly passing through them resulting in a low maintenance-effective drainage system.
CAUTION: The vertical drain pipe is held at a 90º angel by a small plastic piece that is glued to the horizontal drain pipe. Twisting the drain outlet (horizontal) pipe may resulting in breaking that plastic piece. If you wish to reposition the vinyl drain tube by rotating it on the drain outlet it is best to support the vertical pipe while doing it. Over time, the vinyl tube will begin to rotate easily on the drain outlet making it unnecessary to support the vertical drain when repositioning the tube.
Optional drain tube and valve
I made the vinyl tube and ball valve an option because they are relatively expensive, and some users may want to operate with other drainage plumbing on the outside of the composter. The basic unit is comes with a drain outlet of 3/4 inch (19 mm) pvc pipe, approximately 2 inches (5 cm) long. A wide variety of inexpensive fittings are available for extending this pipe. Rigid pvc pipe can be extended into a bucket or into the ground, or a hose adapter could be glued on the pipe allowing a common garden hose to be attached. I have worked with those and other variations and I prefer the vinyl tube and ball valve.
The advantage of using the ball valve is that it is simple to close off the drain, allowing the user to periodically flood the unit. I will discuss that in more detail below. The clear tube is practical because you can visually monitor the level of the effluent, and you can also monitor progress when clearing a blockage.
Self harvesting system
One benefit of BSF larvae is that, upon maturing, they will migrate away from the food source (waste). This allows for passive systems for collecting them. This single ramp system has been proven to be very efficient at channeling the mature larvae into the collection bag. You may view a video of a test of this system here: LINK
The clear collection bag that is included with this composter allows the user to see what type and quantity of larvae have been collected. It resists flooding by rain and contains the larvae very well when properly secured with the included Velcro strap. Two pieces of 1 inch pvc pipe are also included with the composter for those who wish to adapt the harvest plumbing for a rigid collection container. The user would supply the pvc elbows required to route the pipe. I prefer the shortest run of pipe possible which is why I operate my composters using the collection bag attached directly to the exit pipe as shown in the photo above.
BSF larvae are very good at escaping from containers. Velcro hook tape is the most effective way to contain BSF larvae that I am aware of. The Velcro in this unit has been carefully applied and should resist peeling. Occasionally it becomes necessary to repair gaps that form when the tape pulls away from the wall of the unit. This is a simple procedure and will be covered in the support topic on our forum.
Lizards and frogs can make a significant impact on your BSF colony by eating the females as they enter the unit to lay eggs. The lizard barrier provided is a plastic mesh that allows the BSF females to enter the unit but prevents these small predators from entering.
Please the BSF Bio-Composter support & observations section (link) for more information.
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