A matter of survival in mushroom cultivation

The cultivation of mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) is an agricultural activity of great economic and social importance in Spain. However, this crop depends on the import of peat from the Baltic area. The Spanish mushroom sector faces the challenge of finding a sustainable alternative that guarantees the quality and profitability of its production.

Finding an alternative to peat is a matter of survival for the Spanish mushroom sector - Eurochamp.

With this study, we aim to assess the viability of using two circular alternatives to partially replace peat in mushroom growing media. We evaluated the physical and chemical properties, microbiome, productivity and quality of the culture media with these alternatives, and compared them with the culture media with peat. The results showed that the alternatives to peat had a lower disease pressure and a similar yield to peat, which indicates their potential for circular horticulture.

 

Materials and methods

To carry out the study, five types of culture media were prepared with different proportions of peat and peat-alternative.

We have sown mushroom seeds in the growing media and are maintaining optimal temperature, humidity and light conditions for their development. The measurement of the physical and chemical properties of the casing soils, such as water holding capacity, moisture content, porosity, soil respiration, electrical conductivity and organic matter content was considered.

Pretreatments were also applied to in order to reduce the microbiome and improve the physicochemical properties of the alternatives.

 

The microbiome of the culture media was analyzed using genetic sequencing techniques. The productivity of the culture media was measured by the weight and number of mushrooms harvested. We assessed the quality of the culture media by the appearance, color, size and shape of the mushrooms.

Preliminary results

From an initial analysis, we can say that the results are promising. We are getting a crop that is only slightly inferior to peat in terms of quantity and quality. All the evidence suggests that both solutions are technically viable alternatives to peat. Once they are introduced into the market cycle, it will be easier to learn and fine-tune their management and probably the differences with black peat will be reduced.

Conclusions

The initial results of this study show that the use of grass fibre and peat moss as alternatives to peat in the cultivation of Agaricus bisporus mushrooms is technically feasible. These alternatives show lower disease pressure and similar performance to peat, indicating their potential for use in organic horticulture. Further research is needed to optimise the use of these alternatives and to assess their economic and environmental sustainability.

About Eurochamp

Eurochamp specializes in the cultivation and processing of mushrooms. EUROCHAMP was created in 2000 as a result of the union of two Agrariann Transformation Societies: Champiunión and Unichamp.

Click here if you would like to know more about Eurochamp.

Within the BIOSCHAMP project, Eurochamp participàtes as a mushroom grower and validator in the WP4.

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