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INSECT FRASS – BENEFITS OF THE BUG!

WHAT IS INSECT FRASS?

Frass is the by-product of insects from conversion of food (organic matter) into waste. It comprises of a mix of insect excrement, exoskeletons, and the original food source.


Frass is filled with nutrients and microbiota which has led to its use as a biofertilizer in organic farming. Frass contains all the macro & micro-nutrients a plant requires as well as beneficial microbes – in fact, up to two-hundred times more beneficial microbes than compost or worm castings. The frass also acts as an organic pesticide by deterring gnats, grubs, and root-feeding nematodes, and is a fungal inoculant stimulating the growth of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.



MYCORRHIZAL FUNGI

Association between plants and mycorrhizal are extremely important for plant health and has been extensively researched, so we will not expand here. For those wanting further information on mycorrhizal, an excellent initial reference is the following website produced by Mark Brundrett, University of Western Australia: http://mycorrhizas.info/


In addition to the fungal inoculants, nutrients and microbiota, recent scientific research suggests that Frass is even more valuable due to the presence of chitin.


CHITIN

Chitin is a natural polymer, found in the exoskeleton's of insects, that has been shown to improve the growth and yield of plants. When chitin is present in the soil, a plants natural immune system is triggered, and thinking it is under attack by insects or soil-borne diseases (root rot for example), a plant will respond by enhancing its defences. It will effectively grow faster and stronger.


"As a biocompatible and biodegradable eco-friendly biopolymer, chitin has several promising applications in various fields. Due to its high nitrogen content and low C/N ratio, chitin can be used as a fertilizer or soil amendment to enhance crop growth. Moreover, chitin is expected to improve crop yields due to its ability to induce plant defense systems against

pests and pathogens.” (Egusa et al, 2015)

According to some frass suppliers, frass from Super Worms contains the highest chitin levels of any insect type

– up to 20%. Research shows however that the quality of frass used is an important factor in the positive outcomes on plants (see Kagata & Ohgushi, 2012 for example) and frass quality is a direct result of an insect’s diet. More research is required to determine the best diet for farmed insects.

(see Poveda, J. et al, 2019) At LIVEBUGS we believe a diet of organic matter provides the best natural diet for our insects to thrive and produce high quality frass.


BENEFITS OF FRASS

Frass is a completely natural and organic by-product of growing healthy insects. It is comprised of the waste, exoskeletons and left-over food of insects. The potential of frass as a natural fertiliser and soil enhancer is just beginning to be explored but generally speaking, frass is a natural organic fertiliser with significant benefits:


  • Frass contributes to closing nutrient cycles by recycling food waste into a high-quality plant food and soil amendment product.

  • Frass is extremely rich in plant available nutrients:

    • Contains the macro and micro-nutrients a plant requires for healthy and sustained growth over the long-term.

    • Naturally rich in carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and zinc for example, the nutrients are bound within the frass and not washed away by rain.

  • Frass contains all groups of valuable microbes including beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoa which improves nutrient cycling and availability:

    • Contains hundreds more beneficial microbes than compost or worm castings.

    • Increases carbon and nitrogen mineralization, locking carbon into the soil and increasing nutrient availability.

  • Frass is an effective soil amendment product:

    • Reduces soil deficiencies and creates soil conditions beneficial to plant advantageous micro-organisms.

    • Changes the soil in a way that is disadvantageous for phytopathogenic organisms (parasites).

  • Frass contains plant available chitin which:

    • promotes plant health, fortifies strength, and increases growth and yields.

    • improves root growth conditions.

    • stimulates a plants immune system to create natural toxins.

    • elevates natural plant defences against pests, pathogens and bacterial and fungal diseases including root feeding nematodes and fungal gnats and diseases.

    • binds to essential nutrients making them plant accessible.

    • fortifies the cell walls of plants.

  • Frass acts as a fungal inoculant, natural bio-stimulant, and boosts beneficial enzymes.


USING FRASS

Frass is extremely easy to use as it has a sandy texture and little odour.


Potting Mix

· Add two cups of frass to a 30ltr bag of potting mix or compost and mix well.


Top Dressing established plants

· Sprinkle 1/3 cup around the base of pants before watering in well.


Garden Planting

· Prior to planting, mix frass with soil by digging in to top layer of soil. Water in well. Add 4 cups of frass per m2.


Root Drenching

· Mix two cups of frass into 10 to 12 litres of rainwater and stir in well. Drench roots as required.


Foliar Spray

· Steep one cup of frass in 10-12 litres of rainwater for one hour. Ensure well dissolved and sieve solids prior to spraying onto plant leaves. This is best done in the early morning before plants leaves are subject to full sunlight.


Compost Tea

· Add two cups of frass and 10 to 12 litres of rainwater to a compost brewer and aerate for 24hrs. Use immediately.


CAUTION IN USING FRASS

Although frass is 100% naturally produced, it is composed of insect droppings and needs to be handle with care. Like compost or worm castings, caution when handling frass is advised. Gloves and mask can be used as a precaution.


LIVEBUGS INSECT FRASS

  • LIVEBUGS FRASS is a 100% NATURAL, PREMIUM GRADE FRASS made predominantly from the droppings of Super Worms.

  • LIVEBUGS FRASS contains high levels of chitin, which is a natural bio-stimulant, helping to activate a plants’ immune response, growth rate and disease resistance.

  • Full of beneficial nutrients and micro-organisms, LIVEBUGS FRASS will super charge your soil and plants, adding a balance of long-lasting nutrients.

  • Order your frass online: livebugs.com.au/product-page/organic-insect-frass-the-perfect-plant-food



For more information about LIVEBUGS FRASS or any of our LIVEBUGS products, please check out our web-site, livebugs.com.au

or

CONTACT US on 0447 608 202





REFERENCES

Houben, D., Daoulas, G., Faucon, M.-P. & Dulaurent, A.-M. Potential use of mealworm frass as a fertilizer: Impact on crop growth and soil properties. Scientific Reports 10, 1–9 (2020).

Egusa, M. et al. Chitin Nanofiber Elucidates the Elicitor Activity of Polymeric Chitin in Plants. Front. Plant Sci. 6, (2015).

Kagata, H. & Ohgushi, T. Positive and negative impacts of insect frass quality on soil nitrogen availability and plant growth. Popul Ecol 54, 75–82 (2012)

Poveda, J. et al. Mealworm frass as a potential biofertilizer and abiotic stress tolerance[1]inductor in plants. Applied Soil Ecology 142, 110–122 (2019).




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