Date of Award

Winter 2017

Project Type


Program or Major

Ocean Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Kenneth Baldwin

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Fairchild

Third Advisor

Barbaros Celikkol


Rising global populations are causing a food crisis that can only be solved with novel, sustainable methods of food production. Many countries, including the United States, are increasing their aquaculture production to meet the appetites of an increasing population. Alternative feeds for aquaculture are necessary to reduce the pressure on overfished forage fish species and create low cost feeds. White worms are an effective, sustainable live feed for several fish species and cost very little to cultivate. However, for white worms to be a competitive alternative feed, they need to be harvested from the soil in which they are cultivated in a more cost-effective manner. Therefore, taking into account past methods for worm harvesting that use heat as the driving force, the goal of this study was to design a white worm harvester that would yield the maximum amount of worms from the soil in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort. Literature on current and historic worm cultivation and harvesting was reviewed, and the temperature distribution within soil was measured to determine the harvester dimensions. A harvester prototype was constructed and evaluated to improve upon previous UNH harvesting methods which produced inconsistent amounts of worms at inconsistent time intervals. The harvester prototype with temperature control yielded an average of 81% (± 5% standard error) of the white worms in the soil within 135 minutes. The harvester prototype is scalable and could be increased inexpensively for commercial white worm operations.