NewFoss Grass Fibers Potential in BIOSCHAMP Validation Trials
The search for sustainable peat replacement alternatives for mushroom cultivation continues to gain significant traction. BIOSCHAMP partner NewFoss is an active part of these paradigm remodeling. Their grass fibers, such as their already commercially available NFF-Substrate, are a promising prospect. In BIOSCHAMP, NewFoss has selected a promising grass type and extensive laboratory testing has validated its efficacy. During 2024, BIOSCHAMP will perform a crucial step: the assessment of their performance in real-world settings under professional mushroom grower conditions. To this end, the four commercial growers participating in BIOSCHAMP are engaged in commercial-scale validation trials, spanning across diverse European geographic locations and productive models to capture representative data. These trials will collect information on yield while simultaneously monitoring disease pressure.
NewFoss has also developed a proprietary process, which stands out for its ability to efficiently extract nutrients from grass feedstock. This proprietary process employs acidic conditions for sanitization, eliminating the need for traditional peat sterilization methods, such as steaming. The environmental and economic advantages of this process render steaming obsolete and contribute to the overall benefits of the future BIOSCHAMP solution.
NewFoss fibres produced in large quantities for WP4 validation trials.
Since most laboratory tests were conducted on steamed fibers, there was a degree of uncertainty regarding the behavior of material treated through the proprietary process. The results from the initial trial, however, demonstrated comparable yields and no discernible increase in disease pressure, paving the way for commercial-scale testing without the requirement for steaming.
The commercial-scale tests outlined in Work Package 4 will be replicated three consecutive times by each of the four participating growers. To ensure consistency of input material throughout the trials, all fibers were produced in a single batch. Following production, the fibers were baled and tightly wrapped for preservation.
Fibres baled for validation testing among different growers in Europe.
NewFoss fibers will undergo rigorous evaluation under management practices analogous to traditional mushroom cultivation. A comprehensive array of parameters will be closely monitored during the growth and harvest processes. These parameters encompass not only yield and disease pressure but also other factors such as water retention capacity, and crop consistency. Comprehensive results from all trials across the participating growers will be available at the project’s conclusion in the summer of 2024, offering valuable insights into the potential of NewFoss grass fibers as a sustainable peat replacement alternative for mushroom cultivation.