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InvisibleSixTango
Mycota

Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 1,996
Loc: A little North of Paradis...
Composting
    #1536483 - 05/10/03 07:03 AM (13 years, 6 months ago)

On a rather large scale. Simply set forth here, to give you a basis on how it's done.
:smile:
Fungi acquire their nutrients by absorption. In this mode of nutrition, small organic molecules are absorbed from the surrounding medium. A fungus digests food outside its body by secreting powerful hydrolytic enzymes into the food.

The enzymes decompose complex molecules to the simpler compounds that the fungus can absorb and use. It is this mode of nutrition which classifies fungi as mutualistic symbionts, feeding off organic material, etc.

Most fungal hyphae are divided into cells by septa. The septa generally have pores large enough to allow ribosomes, mitochondria, and even nuclei to flow from cell to cell. The filamentous structure of the mycelium provides an extensive surface area that suits the absorptive nutrion of fungi:

20 cc of rich organic substrate can contain as much as 1mile of hyphae.

Such fast growth is possible because proteins and other materials sythesized by the entire mycelium are channeled by cytoplasmic streaming to the tips of the extending hyphae. The fungus concentrates its energy and resources on adding length rather than girth.

Mushroom farming consists of various steps, and although the divisions are somewhat arbitrary, these steps identify what is needed to form a production system.

The steps are Phase I composting, Phase II composting, spawning, casing, pinning, and cropping. These steps are described in their naturally occurring sequence, emphasizing the salient features within each step.

Compost provides nutrients needed for mushrooms to grow. Two types of material are generally used for mushroom compost, the most used and least expensive being wheat straw & horse and/or cow manure.

Synthetic compost is usually made from hay and crushed corncobs, although the term often refers to any mushroom compost where the prime ingredient is not horse and/or cow manure.

Both types of compost require the addition of nitrogen supplements and a conditioning agent, gypsum.

The preparation of compost occurs in two steps referred to as Phase I and Phase II composting. The discussion of compost preparation and mushroom production begins with Phase I composting.

1. Phase I: Making Mushroom Compost
This phase of compost preparation usually occurs outdoors although an enclosed building or a structure with a roof over it may be used. A concrete slab, referred to as a wharf, is required for composting. In addition, a compost turner to aerate and water the ingredients, and a tractor-loader to move the ingredients to the turner is needed. In earlier days piles were turned by hand using pitchforks, which is still an alternative to mechanized equipment, but it is labor intensive and physically demanding.

Phase I composting is initiated by mixing and wetting the ingredients as they are stacked in a rectangular pile with tight sides and a loose center. Normally, the bulk ingredients are put through a compost turner. Water is sprayed onto the horse manure or synthetic compost as these materials move through the turner. Nitrogen supplements and gypsum are spread over the top of the bulk ingredients and are thoroughly mixed by the turner.

Once the pile is wetted and formed, aerobic fermentation (composting) commences as a result of the growth and reproduction of microorganisms, which occur naturally in the bulk ingredients. Heat, ammonia, and carbon dioxide are released as by-products during this process. Compost activators, other than those mentioned, are not needed, although some organic farming books stress the need for an "activator."

Mushroom compost develops as the chemical nature of the raw ingredients is converted by the activity of microorganisms, heat, and some heat-releasing chemical reactions. These events result in a food source most suited for the growth of the mushroom to the exclusion of other fungi and bacteria. There must be adequate moisture, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbohydrates present throughout the process, or else the process will stop. This is why water and supplements are added periodically, and the compost pile is aerated as it moves through the turner.

Gypsum is added to minimize the greasiness compost normally tends to have. Gypsum increases the flocculation of certain chemicals in the compost, and they adhere to straw or hay rather than filling the pores (holes) between the straws. A side benefit of this phenomenon is that air can permeate the pile more readily, and air is essential to the composting process. The exclusion of air results in an airless (anaerobic) environment in which deleterious chemical compounds are formed which detract from the selectivity of mushroom compost for growing mushrooms.

Gypsum is added at the outset of composting at 40 lbs. per ton of dry ingredients.

Nitrogen supplements in general use today include brewers grain, seed meals of soybeans, peanuts, or cotton, and chicken manure, among others. The purpose of these supplements is to increase the nitrogen content to 1.5 percent for horse manure or 1.7 percent for synthetic, both computed on a dry weight basis. Synthetic compost requires the addition of ammonium nitrate or urea at the outset of composting to provide the compost microflora with a readily available form of nitrogen for their growth and reproduction.

Corn cobs are sometimes unavailable or available at a price considered to be excessive. Substitutes for or complements to corn cobs include cottonseed hulls, neutralized grape pomace, and/or cocoa bean hulls. Management of a compost pile containing any one of these materials is unique in the requirements for watering and the interval between turning.

The initial compost pile should be 5 to 6 feet wide, 5 to 6 feet high, and as long as necessary. A two-sided box can be used to form the pile (rick), although some turners are equipped with a "ricker" so a box isn’t needed. The sides of the pile should be firm and dense, yet the center must remain loose throughout Phase I composting. As the straw or hay softens during composting, the materials become less rigid and compactions can easily occur. If the materials become too compact, air cannot move through the pile and an anaerobic environment will develop.

Turning and watering are done at approximately 2-day intervals, but not unless the pile is hot (145? to 170?F). Turning provides the opportunity to water, aerate, and mix the ingredients, as well as to relocate the straw or hay from a cooler to a warmer area in the pile, outside versus inside. Supplements are also added when the ricks are turned, but they should be added early in the composting process. The number of turnings and the time between turnings depends on the condition of the starting material and the time necessary for the compost to heat to temperatures above 145?F.

Water addition is critical since too much will exclude oxygen by occupying the pore space, and too little can limit the growth of bacteria and fungi. As a general rule, water is added up to the point of leaching when the pile is formed and at the time of first turning, and thereafter either none or only a little is added for the duration of composting. On the last turning before Phase II composting, water can be applied generously so that when the compost is tightly squeezed, water drips from it. There is a link between water, nutritive value, microbial activity, and temperature, and because it is a chain, when one condition is limiting for one factor, the whole chain will cease to function. Biologists see this phenomenon repeatedly and have termed it the Law of Limiting Factors.

Phase I composting lasts from 7 to 14 days, depending on the nature of the material at the start and its characteristics at each turn. There is a strong ammonia odor associated with composting, which is usually complemented by a sweet, moldy smell. When compost temperatures are 155?F and higher, and ammonia is present, chemical changes occur which result in a food rather exclusively used by the mushrooms.

As a by-product of the chemical changes, heat is released and the compost temperatures increase. Temperatures in the compost can reach 170? to 180?F during the second and third turnings when a desirable level of biological and chemical activity is occurring. At the end of Phase I the compost should: a) have a chocolate brown color; b) have soft, pliable straws, c) have a moisture content of from 68 to 74 percent; and d) have a strong smell of ammonia. When the moisture, temperature, color, and odor described have been reached, Phase I composting is completed.

2. Phase II: Finishing the Compost
There are two major purposes to Phase II composting. Pasteurization is necessary to kill any insects, nematodes, pest fungi, or other pests that may be present in the compost. And second, it is necessary to remove the ammonia which formed during Phase I composting. Ammonia at the end of Phase II in a concentration higher than 0.07 percent is often lethal to mushroom spawn growth, thus it must be removed; generally, a person can smell ammonia when the concentration is above 0.10 percent.

Phase II takes place in one of three places, depending on the type of production system used. For the zoned system of growing, compost is packed into wooden trays, the trays are stacked six to eight high, and are moved into an environmentally controlled Phase II room. Thereafter, the trays are moved to special rooms, each designed to provide the optimum environment for each step of the mushroom growing process.

With a bed or shelf system, the compost is placed directly in the beds, which are in the room used for all steps of the crop culture. The most recently introduced system, the bulk system, is one in which the compost is placed in a cement-block bin with a perforated floor and no cover on top of the compost; this is a room specifically designed for Phase II composting.

The compost, whether placed in beds, trays, or bulk, should be filled uniformly in depth and density or compression. Compost density should allow for gas exchange, since ammonia and carbon dioxide will be replaced by outside air.

Phase II composting can be viewed as a controlled, temperature-dependent, ecological process using air to maintain the compost in a temperature range best suited for the de-ammonifying organisms to grow and reproduce. The growth of these thermophilic (heat-loving) organisms depends on the availability of usable carbohydrates and nitrogen, some of the nitrogen in the form of ammonia.

Optimum management for Phase II is difficult to define and most commercial growers tend toward one of the two systems in general use today: high temperature or low temperature.

A high temperature Phase II system involves an initial pasteurization period during which the compost and the air temperature are raised to at least 145?F for 6 hours. This can be accomplished by heat generated during the growth of naturally occurring microorganisms or by injecting steam into the room where the compost has been placed, or both. After pasteurization, the compost is re-conditioned by immediately lowering the temperature to 140?F by flushing the room with fresh air. Thereafter, the compost is allowed to cool gradually at a rate of approximately 2? to 3?F each day until all the ammonia is dissipated. This Phase II system requires approximately 10 to 14 days to complete.

In the low temperature Phase II system the compost temperature is initially increased to about 126?F with steam or by the heat released via microbial growth, after which the air temperature is lowered so the compost is in a temperature range of 125? to 130?F range. During the 4 to 5 days after pasteurization, the compost temperature may be lowered by about 2?F a day until the ammonia is dissipated.

It is important to remember the purposes of Phase II when trying to determine the proper procedure and sequence to follow. One purpose is to remove unwanted ammonia. To this end the temperature range from 125? to 130?F is most efficient since de-ammonifying organisms grow well in this temperature range. A second purpose of Phase II is to remove any pests present in the compost by use of a pasteurization sequence.

At the end of Phase II the compost temperature must be lowered to approximately 75? to 80?F before spawning can begin. The nitrogen content of the compost should be 2.0 to 2.4 percent, and the moisture content between 68 and 72 percent. Also, at the end of Phase II it is desirable to have 5 to 7 lbs. of dry compost per square foot of bed or tray surface to obtain profitable mushroom yields.  :smile:

It is important to have both the compost and the compost temperatures uniform during the Phase II process since it is desirable to have as homogenous a material as possible.


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~whiskey river rafting, hot tubbing, dirty dancing & spending money on - wild women - having fun & just gonna waste the rest~


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Offlinekykeon
Dead wishes

Registered: 05/30/02
Posts: 1,506
Loc: A universe right next to ...
Last seen: 10 years, 2 months
Re: Composting [Re: SixTango]
    #1536654 - 05/10/03 10:34 AM (13 years, 6 months ago)

thanx for sharing, i liked the post :smile:


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The living ghost of Kykeon


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Offlinezeronio
Stranger
Male

Registered: 10/16/01
Posts: 2,349
Loc: Slovenia
Last seen: 2 months, 28 days
Re: Composting [Re: SixTango]
    #1536658 - 05/10/03 10:41 AM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Great article! I think it should go in the FAQ!


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OfflineMike Elium
.the Mycelium

Registered: 02/04/03
Posts: 245
Loc: on the edge
Last seen: 1 year, 2 months
Re: Composting [Re: SixTango]
    #1536930 - 05/10/03 02:17 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)


6T.....
Thanks for the effort to post this, very useful & interesting info.


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your inside is out, and your outside is in.


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OfflineStopThat
ManWithNoName

Registered: 02/28/03
Posts: 141
Loc: Homeland
Last seen: 13 years, 2 months
Re: Composting [Re: Mike Elium]
    #1541196 - 05/12/03 10:44 AM (13 years, 6 months ago)

Thanks again 6T. I'm saving this one.


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Offlinekykeon
Dead wishes

Registered: 05/30/02
Posts: 1,506
Loc: A universe right next to ...
Last seen: 10 years, 2 months
Re: Composting [Re: SixTango]
    #1541765 - 05/12/03 03:00 PM (13 years, 6 months ago)

i forgot to mention
fuckin cool avatar


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The living ghost of Kykeon


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