What is claimed to be the world’s first fully automated AI-powered insect mini-farm has been announced in the UK.
Powered by AI – and insects – Better Origin, a Cambridge-based start–up, has launched the X1 farm to convert local waste, such as “ugly” fruit and veg, agricultural residues and industrial food waste, into high-quality animal feed in the form of insect larvae to improve welfare, productivity and yield.
The X1 is self-contained and uses AI together with patented engineering processes to replicate the role insects play in the natural food cycle. Its app-based user interface means the farmer always knows exactly what is going on inside the X1 at any given time.
Fotis Fotiadis, CEO and co-founder of Better Origin explained that in nature insects convert waste into nutrients for animals and humans in a ‘no-waste’ cycle, but this link is absent from the modern food chain.
“Until now there was no accessible way for food producers to turn abundant feedstock or food waste, into useable food. We’re now delivering a vital solution to this global opportunity,” he said.
“Our technology uses natural processes to fix the broken food system, restoring insects as the missing link in the modern food chain. With farmers facing unprecedented needs to diversify and improve productivity, Better Origin technology provides a vital solution on farms.”
Fotiadis holds an MPhil in Sustainable Engineering from the University of Cambridge and an MEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sussex.
He is applying his experience in the Oil & Gas industry designing and managing large scale oil exploration projects, together with his passion for using technology and engineering practices to develop his vision for Better Origin.
“We’ve created the future of sustainable food production that will bring about a new harmony between nature and technology – and, by so doing, transform livestock productivity and welfare and, at the same time, reduce carbon emissions and ensure global food security.”
Earlier this year, the X1 completed a successful pilot project on Wood Farm in Cambridgeshire and is now poised to collaborate with farmers to support happier, healthier hens on farms across the UK.
Charles Mear, owner of Wood Farm, said: “We love the ethos and concept of Better Origin, which fits well with what we are trying to achieve here at Wood Farm, producing a carbon-neutral free-range egg.
“The health and wellbeing of my hens is of utmost importance to me.”
Better Origin also has plans to market the X1 for the salmon farming and pet foods sectors.