A novel type of biochar from chitinous Hermetia illucens waste with a built-in stimulating effect on plants and soil arthropods

Sci Rep. 2023 May 23;13(1):8306. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-35460-6.


The breeding of insects generates waste in the form of insect excrement and feed residues. In addition, a specific chitinous waste in the form of insect larvae and pupae exuvia is also left. Recent research tries to manage it, e.g., by producing chitin and chitosan, which are value-added products. The circular economy approach requires testing new, non-standard management methods that can develop products with unique properties. To date, the possibility of biochar production from chitinous waste derived from insects has not been evaluated. Here we show that the puparia of Hermetia illucens are suitable for biochar production, which in turn exhibits original characteristics. We found that the biochars have a high nitrogen level, which is rarely achievable in materials of natural origin without artificial doping. This study presents a detailed chemical and physical characterization of the biochars. Moreover, ecotoxicological analysis has revealed the biochars’ stimulation effect on plant root growth and the reproduction of the soil invertebrate Folsomia candida, as well as the lack of a toxic effect on its mortality. This predisposes these novel materials with already built-in stimulating properties to be used in agronomy, for example as a carriers for fertilizers or beneficial bacteria.

PMID:37221262 | PMC:PMC10206153 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-023-35460-6


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