Mealworms thrive in cramped conditions and are at least 17 times more productive per unit of space than soy. They require less than 1/2 gallon of water per pound of mealworms produced, making them 500 times more efficient than soy in terms of water use. They also eat a wide variety of waste streams, including grain by-products, dried weeds, and even manures from other animals. You'd be hard pressed to match this level of resource efficiency with any common livestock or crop grown today.
Aside from the protein production, mealworms also produce another valuable resource: frass. Mealworm frass is a dry, odorless waste product. It is easy to handle and store, and doesn't have the same drawbacks as other animal manures. It retails for $15/pound or more online. Frass has N/P/K values of 3.66 percent, 1.40 percent, 1.62 percent, respectively, and a Carbon/Nitrogen ratio of 9.86, making it a quality fertilizer and great addition to composts or topsoil.
Mealworms have 48 percent protein by weight, which is similar to soy’s 50 percent protein. Mealworms contain more total energy per pound, however, and have lower ash and crude fiber content.
Here's our Mealworm Farm How-to, it's optimized for higher production, giving you 1.5 lbs of mealworms per week.