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Bugging out: B.C. farm breeds flies in effort to be waste-free





A farm outside of Kamloops, B.C. is trying to make its operation 100 per cent waste-free. Its secret? Bugs.

Anastasia and Aras Balali Moghaddam, owners and farmers at Caspian Acres in the Cherry Creek area west of Kamloops have launched a pilot project that uses black soldier flies to feed some of their animals. This is an alternative to buying food pellets, which can be expensive.

Caspian Acres raises pigs, sheep, and poultry. Black soldier flies are packed with nutrients and are especially beneficial to chickens and ducks. 

By raising their own feed, the Balali Moghaddams are developing a farm that is completely regenerative, said Aras. 

“We’re making small steps toward that every day,” Aras told CBC’s Jenifer Norwell.

Food waste

The farm brings in three tons of food waste — three to four truck-loads — every week from food banks and restaurants. The donated leftovers can either go into the soil as compost, or be fed to the animals. 

“It gives us really healthy animals,” Anastasia told Norwell.

Anastasia Balali Moghaddam sorts food-waste from food banks and restaurants. This will be fed to animals like pigs, sheep and birds. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

The pigs at Caspian are only fed food waste, like avocados and melons. But while the pigs thrive on eating food waste, poultry and birds like ducks need more protein, says Aras. 

That’s where the black soldier flies come in. 

Black soldier flies

Since food waste would not be enough for his chickens and ducks to eat, Aras started doing some research and learned about the benefits of raising insects as food. 

Black soldier flies can measure up to two centimetres long, depending on how much food they get as larvae, according to Aras. The nutrients they consume during this period are used throughout their life cycles. 

And they consume a lot.

A square metre of black soldier flies can eat about 15 kilograms ​of organic material like food waste per day, says Aras. 

A fully-grown black soldier fly at Caspian Acres. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

This makes the insects extremely high in protein, and especially beneficial to chickens and ducks when combined with food-waste like leafy greens and tomatoes. 

The black soldier fly larvae is at its best nutritional value between day 12 and 14, he says. The farm has half a million larvae now. When the flies are fully grown, they are used to breed more larvae for food.

“We have a batch of ducklings next week, and want to start them off with feeding on the larvae,” says Aras.

Poultry on Caspian Acres get nutrition-packed meals, thanks to black soldier fly larvae. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

He says the farm is working toward becoming a black soldier fly breeder and providing other farms with a way to adopt their system.

“For me, seeing the [black soldier flies] lay eggs and seeing the eggs hatch is just as exciting as holding a newborn lamb … I don’t see a difference. It’s just the cycle of life.”

Listen to the full story here:

A farm outside of Kamloops, B.C. is trying to make their operation 100 per cent waste-free. Their secret? Bugs. 7:49

With files from Daybreak Kamloops


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The ‘Maple Majestic’ wants to be Canada’s homegrown Tesla





Look out Tesla, Canada has a homegrown electric sedan on the way. Well, that’s if AK International Motor Corporation can drum up enough investment to make its EV a reality. Dubbed the “Maple Majestic,” the vehicle is a battery-electric designed to “excel in extreme climate performance without adversely affecting the climate, as befits a vehicle from Canada,” according to its website.

What’s in a name? — The company says the maple leaf is a “symbol of Canada’s warmth and friendliness towards all cultures,” while “majestic” refers to the country’s “status as a Constitutional Monarchy.”

That patriotism carries over into Maple Majestic’s parent company’s lofty goals. AK Motor founder Arkadiusz Kaminski says he wants the company, which he founded in 2012, to become “Canada’s first multi-brand automotive OEM,” and that the “Maple Majestic is intended to be Canada’s flagship brand of automobiles on the world stage.”

Partnerships are key — “We acknowledge that the best chance for the Maple Majestic brand to succeed, lies in continuing to build the relationship with Canada’s parts suppliers and technological innovators, whether they be academic institutions, corporations, or individual inventors,” the company explains. “We are currently seeking partners in automotive engineering, parts manufacturing, automotive assembly, electric propulsion technology, battery technology, autonomous technology, and hybrid power generation technology.”

In other words, don’t expect to be able to buy a Maple Majestic any time soon… and don’t expect to pour over 0-60 mph times, power output, range, or other key stats, because those don’t currently exist. For now, all we have are pictures and a short video clip. But at least those are arresting.

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PE-backed Quorum Software to merge with Canadian energy tech firm





Houston-based energy technology company Quorum Software will merge with a Canadian tech firm to bolster its presence in oil and gas services.

Quorum announced Feb. 15 it plans to merge with Calgary, Alberta-based Aucerna, a global provider of planning, execution and reserves software for the energy sector. The combined firm will operate under the Quorum Software brand.

Gene Austin, CEO of Quorum Software, will continue in his capacity as chief executive of the combined firm. Austin, former CEO of Austin-based marketing tech firm Bazaarvoice Inc., became CEO of Quorum in December 2018.

Aucerna co-founder and CEO Wayne Sim will be appointed to the Quorum Software board of directors. Both companies are backed by San Francisco- and Chicago-based private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

“Over the last 20 years, Quorum has become the leading innovator of software deployed by North American energy companies,” said Austin. “Today, Quorum is expanding the scope of our technology and expertise to all energy-producing regions of the globe. Customers everywhere will have access to a cloud technology ecosystem that connects decision-ready data from operations to the boardroom.”

In addition to the merger announcement, Quorum Software announced it had entered into an agreement with Finnish IT firm TietoEvry to purchase TietoEvry’s entire oil and gas business. The agreement, which includes hydrocarbon management, personnel and material logistics software and related services, is valued at 155 million euros, or $188 million, according to a statement from TietoEvry.

“Our three organizations complement each other — from the software that our great people design to the energy markets where we operate,” said Sim. “Our new company will be able to deliver value to our stakeholders, while accelerating the growth of our combined business and the energy industry’s software transformation.”

The combined company will serve over 1,800 energy companies in 55 countries, according to the announcement. With its headquarters in Houston, Quorum will continue to have a significant presence in Calgary and in Norway, the headquarters for TietoEvry’s oil and gas software business. Quorum will have other offices throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As of Sept. 30, 2020, private equity firm Thoma Bravo had more than $73 billion in assets under management. In late December 2020, Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Richardson, Texas-based tech firm RealPage in a roughly $10 billion acquisition.

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Piece of Kitchener technology lands on Mars on Perseverance rover





KITCHENER — A piece of Kitchener technology has landed on Mars, thanks to NASA’s Perseverance rover.

The rover settled on the planet’s surface on Thursday afternoon. It’s been travelling through space since it was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. in July.

“The whole idea of being on a device that we’re sending to another plant with the express mission of looking for traces of past life, it’s pretty mind boggling actually,” said Rafal Pawluczyk, chief technical officer for FiberTech Optica.

The Kitchener-based company made fibre optic cables for the rover’s SuperCam that will examine samples with a camera, laser and spectrometers.

“The cables that we built take the light from that multiplexer and deliver it to each spectrograph,” Pawluczyk said.

The cables connect a device on the rover to the SuperCam, which will be used to examine rock and soil samples, to spectrometers. They’ll relay information from one device to another.

The project started four years ago with a connection to Los Alamos National Lab, where the instruments connected to the cables were developed.

“We could actually demonstrate we can design something that will meet their really hard engineering requirements,” Pawluczyk said.

The Jezero Crater is where the Perseverance rover, with FiberTech Optica’s technology onboard, landed Thursday. Scientists believe it was once flooded with water and is the best bet for finding any evidence of life. FiberTech’s cables will help that in that search.

Ioannis Haranas, an astrophysicist and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, said the rover isn’t looking for “green men.”

“They’re looking for microbial, single-cell life, any type of fossils and stuff like that,” Haranas said. “That’s why they chose a special landing site. This could be very fertile land for that.”

“It’s very ambitious,” said Ralf Gellert, a physics professor at the University of Guelph.

Gellert helped with previous rover missions and said it’s the first time a Mars rover has landed without a piece of Guelph technology on it. While he’s not part of Perseverance’s mission, he said the possibilities are exciting.

“Every new landing site is a new piece of the puzzle that you can put together with the new results that we have from the other landing sites,” he said.

“It’s scientifically very interesting because, even though we don’t have an instrument on that rover, we can compare what the new rover Perseverance finds at this new landing site,” he said.

Now that Perseverance has landed on Mars, FiberTech is looking ahead to its next possible mission into space.

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