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Frass Info

Frass is insect excrement, exoskeletons, & organic residue (soil pre/pro-biotic).

Nature's path to soil health.

What is Frass?

As a circular soil amendment, it is a promising biological alternative to synthetic fertilizers.

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Application of consistent, high quality insect frass has a wide range of benefits including bolstering plant defense, replenishing beneficial bacteria and microbes, improving nutrient efficiency, increasing the bioavailability of nutrients already in soil, improving soil structure, reducing nutrient run-off, increasing water retention, and improving yields.

Frass Overview

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Frass as a premium soil remediation product. 

Similar to compost or animal manure, frass adds diverse, crucial organic matter, chitin, and microbes to rebuild soil structure, improve  bioavailability of other soil nutrients, and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Benefits of Frass

Offsets chemical fertilizer and pesticide costs/application 

Increased drought resistance

Plays a key role in improved plant health, growth, and development

Potential pest reduction by stimulating natural defense mechanisms and overall biodiversity 

Adds structure to treated soils

Beneficial microbes have demonstrated contribution to pathogen reduction

Contains chitin, stimulating natural plant immunities/defenses while improving soil microbial health

Low-odor

Soil Health

Healthy soil is a highly biodiverse living environment of microbes, fungi, invertebrates and more.

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Soils play a critical role

in nutrient and element cycling, carbon sequestration, and physical and nutrient support of plants.

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Chemical fertilizers

and pesticides application can damage soil biodiversity and microbial communities, disrupting many basic functions of a healthy soil.

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Conventional agriculture

and on-farm practices like tillage and monocropping can negatively affect long-term soil health.

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Fossil-fuel-based

chemical fertilizers and pesticides can account for over 20% of total GHG emissions. 

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Current farm practices

result in further nutrient depletion, reduction of organic matter, erosion, and harmful runoff into waterways.

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Frass

is the primary byproduct of black soldier fly farming.

Chapul Farms Frass-Unleashing Nature’s Soil Building Toolkit to Accelerate the Journey Back to Productive Soil Health

Early frass markets include:

  • Home and garden, citrus, tomatoes, indoor growing, cannabis.

  • Apply by spreading 1,000 - 1,500kg per hectare at 100% soil utilization. For gardens and new planting use 150g per square meter

Frass vs. Gas

"Synthetic Nitrogen vs. Sustainable Frass" - we can't keep fracking natural gas to make nitrogen. Most people do not understand how destructive this part of the agricultural system is to the planet. 

Chapul's solution is a clear and present solution that must inevitably be implemented to maintain an affordable supply of nutrients. 

More Information

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Can we still afford our dependence on synthetic fertilizers?

The global food system has been dependent on synthetic fertilizers for decades, but supply disruptions, record breaking price inflation and the immense harm caused in their production and overuse has forced intense urgency in the search for viable alternatives with the potential to break this downward spiral. 

 

Chapul Farm’s circular systems produce sustainable protein at scale using waste streams often bound for landfill. But increasingly more focus on the insect “frass” produced by our process in far higher volumes as a critical tool to wean us away from industrial fertilizers while maintaining crop yields. 

NPK and much more:

Using conventional NPK analysis Chapul’s frass shows values of 2.9/1.2/2.0 but this snapshot is increasingly understood to be a narrow lens in the broader tools being adopted for gauging yield potential and soil health, particularly with a soil amendment as versatile as frass. Chapul has engaged with leading experts in soil health who have pioneered several methods that provide a fuller, data driven overview of the value contained in frass. 

These approaches are designed to mimic the biological processes that occur in real world soils to deliver much greater quantities of nutrients to plant roots and, as with frass, help (re)build the microbial pathways between the soils’ nutrients and the plant roots to achieve this.   

Measuring the benefits: 

Using water as a solvent and other techniques, the Haney Test (from Regen Ag Labs) has been used for several decades to more closely measure the total available Nitrogen (N) and other key nutrients in soil and soil amendments. This approach is designed to reflect the ongoing mineralization of inorganic compounds in a given material from sources not captured in traditional lab testing. 

We also utilize cutting edge genetic screening from BiomeMakers (Regen Ag Labs partner) who are pioneering the use of deriving actionable insights from the full genetic profile of soil and soil amendments. Their approach cross references results with an expanding soil and crop specific reference dataset that enables farmers and agronomists to map microbial contents to a wide and growing list of benefits in varied real world contexts. 

Summary of our frass:

A summary of key data points from these analyses reveals the following summary of our frass:

  • Total available Nitrogen of 2,272 lbs per acre (for comparison corn requires ~300 lbs of N per acre)*

  • Phosphorous: 4,900 lbs per acre

  • Potassium: 6,240 lbs per acre

  • Organic Carbon: 9,600 lbs per acre

  • Soil Organic Matter (SOM): 66%

  • Ph 6.7

*Nutrient uptake by plants is a complex equation. These data indicate vastly more available Nitrogen than conventional lab analysis, but we advise growth trials and ongoing soil testing to enable decision support and determine optimal application method and rates. 

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"We have been running in-house trials on frass for the last eight months and have seen drastic improvement in finished product, which has brought us increased market value and greater customer satisfaction."  

- Jason Lampman, State 3 Farms 

Additional research results:

  • Soil water retention tests using 3% inclusion of dried frass increased moisture retention against control by 7.1%. In a 1000 acre field, this increase translates to 1.5 million gallons of water retained for every inch of rainfall. 

  • Our frass contains hundreds of microbial species spanning a broad range of beneficial mechanisms. We are happy to provide the full dataset upon request.

  • Chapul has performed various growth trials in house and with third parties, that further support a strong pattern in the scientific research on frass spanning a range of target crops (i.e. corn, potatoes, bok choy, ryegrass and numerous others) demonstrating that even at low inclusion rates of both liquid frass tea and dried frass direct applied, frass frequently rivals or outperforms in growth trials against various conventional fertilizers than would be expected using traditional NPK values alone as a predictor. 

Frass in perspective:

Organic soil biofertilizers and amendments, microbial biostimulants and biocontrols are multibillion dollar markets projecting massive, multi year growth prior to recent global turmoil and record price spikes in the broader fertilizer markets. These reflect long term and now accelerating shifts towards soil health and stewardship centered around no till, cover cropping and rebuilding organic matter and microbial communities in soil.  

The rapid growth of insect agriculture positions frass perfectly with its diverse value spanning all aspects of these imperative changes. Our frass is a fully circular soil amendment that provides abundant organic matter, enhanced soil porosity, aggregate stability, moisture retention, abundant microbial biomass and diversity, increased mineralization, pathogen and disease resistance, in a non-toxic/non-synthetic ‘package’ mimicking nature’s most prolific soil health specialists.

FAQ

What is frass?

Frass is a general term that means the things that insects and their larvae leave behind. It contains excrement from all the things they consume as they so along like plant material, wood, human food, and other materials. Frass will look different depending on the insect type and what their food source is. Frass can look like little bits of dust, rust, or sawdust, or whatever the insects have been consuming. Frass also contains chitin, the main component found in the exoskeletons of insects and shellfish. The nutrients in frass are in a readily available form that allows it to function as efficiently as a mineral NPK fertilizer.

Written by Jason Lampman for Grow Magazine

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Profound Impact

Over the past decade at Chapul, and my broader education of our food system, I have only increased my conviction that deliberately weaving insects into the broader fabric of agriculture is one of the most profound things we can do to redirect food and agriculture to a more circular, nature-based model.

- Pat Crowley, CEO