Mushroom is a great source of protein and essential micronutrients. Comparing to other agriculture products food safety levels are also high. Also, we can not forget the great taste of mushroom. Mushroom cultivation is not easy as it seems. Pest and disease control and providing the correct set of nutrients are essential for a good harvest. Also, upkeeping best environment conditions is critical.
Raw materials for mushroom production
Mushrooms are sexual organs of fungus. Like any other fungus the mushroom fungus ( Aspergillus sp.) grow on dead plant or animal tissues.
To get a good harvest upkeeping carbon to nitrogen ratio is essential. 80:1 is considered as a good ratio.
The main raw ingredient is plant waste materials. Grain hulls, saw dust and other agriculture residues are used. However the nitrogen content is low in those materials. So, providing another Nitrogen source is vital for the yield.
Poultry manure is probably the best source of nitrogen for mushroom production.
Besides carbon and nitrogen all other micronutrients directly contribute to the quality of product. Calcium, magnesium and vitamins should be provided to get a good quality mushroom flower.
Mushroom cultivation depend on agriculture residues. So, buying chemical fertilisers or adding any other thing other than a waste material is a waste of resources.
If you are about to start a mushroom business first, find what agriculture residues are available in your area.
For magnesium and calcium you will have to go for inorganic fertilizer. But, for vitamins you can choose something like grain hulls.
Grain hull is a good source of vitamins. Typically, grain hulls are available as animal feed. In fact the hulls are cheap and widely available. So, you don’t face any raw material shortages at all.
The only expensive requirement for mushroom farming is providing a good environment. Correct environment is the key to good harvest. Also, it directly affect the quality of product.
For an example if the light condition is not good mushrooms will grow with a long tail. Also, if the oxygen levels are bad mushrooms will look distorted.
Environmental conditions also promote pests. Mite is one of the major pest in mushroom cultivation. If the relative humidity levels are very high mites will come and attack mushrooms.
Cultivating mushroom in open air is not practical. When mushrooms mature they emit spores. Spores have a unique smell. So, it easily attract harmful insects.
To avoid this cultivation should be done only inside covered houses.
A good ventilation system is essential. Installing automation system for air intake and exhaust is a good idea to save energy.
Mushrooms need good amount of moisture. So, installing a sprinkle watering system is required. However, if your mushroom home is small you can still hand water your mushroom packets.
Spent Mushroom compost
With time the production of grow bags will deduct. The grow bags will loose weight when this happen. So, to optimize the yield per unit area you have to replace these old bags with new ones.
But what to do with the older ones?
The old mushroom mixture is known as mushroom spent compost. It is a light weight material. But, still it is a good package of nutrients. You can either use SMC as a compost for your plants. Or else you can reuse them in your new mushroom mixture.