313: Jeff Tomberlin on Black Soldier Flies.

Seeking natural solutions for food waste recycling.


Dr. Tomberlin has been working with the black soldier fly for almost 20 years. His PhD research with Dr. Craig Sheppard resulted in methods for mass-producing the black soldier fly for use in recycling food or animal waste and the subsequent use of the larvae as feed for livestock, poultry, aquaculture, and reptiles. Companies around the world use these methods to protect the environment, create jobs, and increase protein availability.

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Dr. Tomberlin is currently the Director of EVO Conversion Systems, which has a primary mission of building food and waste management facilities that utilize the black soldier fly.


In This Podcast:

It was his grandmother’s principles about not wasting food or resources in rural Georgia that influenced Dr. Jeff Tomberlin’s philosophies on his life. He found his calling in college and has dedicated much of his energies to teaching others about nature’s extremely effective recycling tool – the Black Soldier Fly. Growing and harvesting this insect is actually quite easy once you know the steps, and he wants everyone to do it at home.  He tells why this insect could prove to be a solution to not just dealing with food waste, but providing a source of food for both chickens and fish, closing a loop in the food-waste cycle.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Growing up on a farm in rural South Georgia and staying interested in sustainable agriculture
  • His grandmother’s influence on his life and learning not to waste
  • Passing the message on to others
  • Educating to reduce food waste
  • Learning more about the Black Soldier Fly and why it is so important
  • How the flies consume vegetable and animal waste while it is decomposing
  • The different ways he tries to educate others on food waste management
  • How they do not become house pests
  • Their growth cycle and how big they get
  • The industrial agricultural uses for black soldier flies
  • Replacing 50-100% of fish feed using just back soldier flies (EPIC call out)
  • Harvesting the larvae – a self-managed process
  • Learning how to start a black soldier fly bin through an online community
  • EVO’s dedication to helping others so that everyone benefits
  • Turning food waste into protein
  • His first experience in a high-rise poultry facility
  • Using popworms.com as a treat for the chickens
  • Helping the systems maintain production
  • Tips to help the larvae manage their food

As well as:

  • His failure – Trying to find balance in his life while as a third-year undergraduate; accidentally overfeeding his larvae and discovered a pathogen
  • His success – Discovering the method for mass production of black soldier flies
  • His drive – Legacy of his grandmother of taking care of each other
  • His advice – Keep working hard at it, don’t give up!

Book written by Jeff:

Insects As Food and Feed: From Production to Consumption co edited with Arnold van Huis

Jeff’s Book recommendations:     

Naturalist by E. O Wilson

How to reach Jeff:  

Website: EVO Conversion Systems

Facebook: EVO Conversion Systems

Email: jktomberlin@tamu.edu

 UrbanFarm.org/BlackSoldierFly


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