12.2014 Summary

The primary purpose of a new approach to mushroom production is to develop a new mushroom cultivation technology. The implementation of this technology would allow the collection of a regular harvest of an average annual yield in three flushes at a minimum of 40 kg/m2 of high quality mushrooms, with the highest grade content not less that 95% and minimum 7-day marketable shelf life.  This goal should be achieved without any increase in the operating costs. The operating costs such as supplements, common salt, higher water amount, carbohydrates, and calcium chloride are included in the costs planned for protein supplements in an amount of up to 1.5% of the weight of the substrate phase III. This is accompanied by a reduction of production unit costs of one kilogram of mushrooms. It amounts to 10 – 20% and depends on the increase in the yield and reduces the amount of energy used in the production process that contains a microclimate control by changing production parameters.

The end of the test cycles and advancement of mushroom technology based on the new definition (as controlled feeding), allows summarizing the following facts regarding the mushrooms cultivation and making the first assessments regarding the proposed approach. They have been presented in 12 Reports.

Initially, this situation allows answer the question: Is the proposed collection of the most important concepts and statements on which the new technology is based on allows for better explanation (understanding) the production process, better system known facts and allows the development of new cultivation methods? The production practice will be answered if the obtained responses are correct and truthful with the actual situation.

Basic principles concerning the mushroom cultivation based on a controlled feeding application:

  1. The yield of the first and second flush of mushroom production depends on the mass of mycelium in the compost and the casing layer; the content of nutrients and water available during the phase of overgrowing the substrate, and its recolonization after the application of supplements. Recolonization plays an important role in a production cycle because it creates nutrient resources for the mushroom.
  2. Mycelium mass depends on the amount and type of available dead and organic matter that is a source of energy necessary for mushroom yielding (compost, supplement and water) and the process of its decomposition by the CAZy enzymes produced by mushroom mycelium.
  3. The water must be balanced with the applied supplement. The water should ensure the required temperature (without thermal effect) of the substrate during the entire cultivation period, efficient utilization of the supplement during the process of enzymatic digestion, transport of nutrients into the rhizomorphic mycelium and further to fruiting bodies and mushrooms.
  4. Water (free) applied into the compost during recolonization is utilized for the digestion of nutrients present in compost enhanced with the supplement and also transferred to the substrate. This process protects the substrate against decay despite the use of water doses significantly exceeding water capacity of the substrate and the supplement (50-70% of the fresh weight). Water shortage significantly decreases compost moisture when a supplement is provided and in result reduces the yield.
  5. Water availability during the feeding process needs to be controlled by measuring the suction force in a substrate and casing.
  6. Nutrients accumulated during the vegetative mycelium growth are used in the controlled process of initiation and growth of mushrooms to keep their well-being. Either stimulus or linear approach is used to changing the microclimate parameters. The stimulus approach is applied when the domination of the stronger and older fruiting bodies, and mushrooms over weaker and younger needs to be employed. It allows in the increase in number of harvested mushrooms and the control of their size at harvest. In contrast, linear approach, which introduces small but permanent changes in microclimate parameters, allows keeping a water shortage in the cultivation hall and providing the required evaporation of water from mushrooms and casing, essential for growth of fruiting bodies and mushrooms. Linear changes need to be implemented ahead of time to guarantee expected constant growth and increase of mushroom mass. Water evaporation from the mushrooms can not be faster than the transport of nutrients from the mycelium. It also applies to the casing layer because excessive evaporation results in water shortage and thus causes earlier spore production and loses of volume weight. To avoid high looses earlier harvesting is crucial.
  7. Planned changes of carbon dioxide content in a cultivation hall play a key role during the feeding process. Carbon dioxide concentration is very important during the process of growing fruiting bodies to provide an environment, which enhances a required shape of fruiting bodies (bulbous). To maintain an appropriate interval between generations of fruiting bodies it is also necessary to control the dominance of older fruiting and stronger bodies over the younger and weaker. At application of water dosage greater than 1% of a supplement dose, mycelium produces carbon dioxide at such a high level that it can be used for the control of growth of fruiting bodies and mushroom under conditions of balanced water. Increasing carbon dioxide concentration for a short time to very high levels can inhibit the growth of fruiting bodies and mushrooms.
  8. Higher air and substrate temperature is required during yielding. It is supposed to create more favorable conditions for increase of cell mass and cell membranes, and water in the cell. Throughout the harvesting period it is also required to maintain a constant temperature difference between the air and the substrate.
  9. Water shortage in the casing that results in mycelium decay decreases mushroom yielding due to reduction of mushroom mass and number of fruiting bodies in the following flushes. Weaken mycelium during water shortage is more sensitive to the development of dry bubble disease (or brown spot).
  10. Cultivation in the subsequent flushes should be carried out according to a feeding cycle assumption.
  11. Yield of the third flush depends on available nutrient ingredients being dissolved in water during cold composting and also during feeding through casing with utilization of carbohydrates. Quality of nutrient ingredients available during cold composting depends on Scytalidium thermophilum activity and feeding program. These postulations need further verification.

The presented statements are not conclusive yet and along with the development of technology, exploring new scientific facts and testing of developed models will get their final shape, especially with regard to the third flush.

The establishment of new idea and based on its technology and accompanying innovations allow for reflections on the course of hypothesis dissemination in the future. The question that is worth asking is the following: will dissemination spread out according to the theory of “diffusion of innovation” formulated by Rogers during the Internet era  (Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition Everett M. Rogers)? Or could this be controlled and deliberately disseminate the information? These questions should be addressed separately in relation to the ideas, technologies, and particular, single innovation. It seems that dissemination of the new idea and a single, simple innovation using the Internet can be efficient and quick. However, dissemination of new technology is much more difficult.  Overall, I think both the individual innovations that are a base for new technology, and the technology alone will be propagated very slowly during the era of satellite production system, which dominates in Europe today. The reasons are following:

–        A system runs a market game with a zero result. It does not aim at an increase in profits and decrease in expenses by implementation of new innovations, particularly soft innovations. The game refers to the distribution of profits between the participants in the system  (producers of materials, mushrooms, provision of the means of production, sales organizations). Currently, an increase in production and maintenance of the profit level occurs through investments escalating production area. Permanent reduction of income is due to the fixed prices of mushrooms at the rising costs of their production. The latter issue is being taken care of by running promotions that would increase mushroom consumption. It is supposed to result in the increasing demand that should be higher than supply and in consequences higher prices. .

–        Producers of mushrooms functioning in the satellite system do not take independent actions such as implementation of innovations, development of knowledge and skills, as they do not want to pay additional costs. So far, in Europe individual country or companies promoting their products provided information and trainings. The information is not in the commodity and dissemination is treated as a social mission. Mushroom producers do not find information, new ideas and technology easily available since when a country ceased to be a creator of information and is not any responsible for qualifications of producers. At the same time the creators treat them as a commodity. In addition, if new, efficient technologies and innovations are slower disseminated, the innovative annuity for producers manufacturers who implemented them, will be higher and obtained for a longer time.

–        Most of the producers of raw supplies are also not interested in the dissemination of new technologies and innovations. This results from a concern that new technologies and innovations might disrupt the current market situation. The transmission of information and counseling provided by the companies that provide supplies are part of marketing, and it determines the range of their free offer.

The place of their origin and the person creating them play a significant role. Poland, despite a large mushroom production and the largest exporter of fresh mushrooms in the world, is recognized as a peripheral country that can only assimilate innovations but cannot create them.  The Dutch are still considered as the only nation that is able to develop and disseminate new technologies.

In my opinion, the dissemination of innovations and new technology can be much faster in companies carrying industrial production of mushrooms.

Principles of industrial production

  1. Mini/max. Minimum dependence on nature and maximum control of technology.
  2. The full production cycle – from raw material to independent sale and marketing
  3. Effect of scale
  4. Internal sources of the development of both technology and strategy.
  5. Management and organization of pro-development.

So far there has not been work on the cultivation process that would include a reduced amount of compost and usefulness of strain from the group U-1 under the conditions of full coverage of nutritional requirements. Evaluating the cultivation process with a reduced compost amount has not been possible to perform due to the technical problems; lack of measures that would allow filling boxes with a substrate in an amount of 50-60 kg/m2. Work on the strain from a group of U-1 has not been carried out because of difficulties to obtain a commercial mycelium.

Within a month, I plan to present my views on the desirability and opportunities to create technologies for growing mushrooms without composting (currently compost in produced in the process of hot composting). This will complete the cycle presenting publications on this website.