SLU news

Could insects as a feed alternative change deforestation rates?

Published: 10 July 2018

According to a master thesis by Douglas Hunter substitution of soybean meal with insects in the European poultry industry could reduce land-use up to 99 percent. Many colleagues at SLU have expressed their interest in the thesis that belongs to a research project on sustainable use of resources lead by Åsa Berggren, Department of Ecology.


Protecting native forests against deforestation is one of the main focuses for preserving biodiversity on earth. The main driver of deforestation is converting land to agriculture. To effectively protect biodiversity in forests we need to address the drivers of current threats and find new and alternative ways to acquire the resources that we need for our growing societies. 

Douglas Hunter has studied land-use for production of soybean feed for the European poultry industry. He has compared with alternatives where the feed is based on insects reared on food byproducts.

The results of the study indicate that it could be possible to reduce land-use over 4.6 Million ha, which equals an area of greater size than the Netherlands with 100 percent of the soybean meal substituted with insects. If 25 percent of the meal is substituted, the area reduced is still large 900 00 ha, an area about the size of Cyprus.

To change the use of resources and create sustainable solutions is a complex question, according to Åsa Berggren. New resource alternatives can create ways forward where research in different fields together can push the development.

- The study bring to this the idea that potential massive land-use savings can be made and land-use options that are more sustainable, such as revegetation of forest areas and reducing the pressure of current forests to be converted into agricultural land are possible, says Åsa. 

Read the study at the research blog Crickets as sustainable food/


Åsa Berggren, professor
Department of Ecology, SLU +46 (0)18-672344