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Registered: 11/02/05
Posts: 12
Last seen: 18 years, 5 months
Compost... Formula...... Anyone? Need advice * 1
    #4883162 - 11/02/05 10:27 AM (18 years, 7 months ago)

Hi Everyone. I grow on compost... prepared and pasturized by me. Problem is I tend to end up with contams related to "improper phase I composting". More than anything - I believe I need to revise my formula (incl. supplements) and turning regimen. Mushroom compost formulas are near non existant on the internet... the only varient example being this one at http://www.mushroomadventures.com/compost.html - (Damn - thats a lot of turns and no mention of achieving the important high temps?)

I need a major big pile to fill my beds so I start with 80 bales and put them through a bale shredder. (I grow cubes BTW)

I pre-soak the straw with soaker hoses for two days and then build the pile using a "jig" that I drag along as I form the pile. Using this jig allows us to build a perfectly squared pile 6' high - 5' wide and 20' or so long. As we make/turn the pile - we add any supplements that might be required at any specific point. When we turn the pile - we use the jig as well - but shorten the width from 5' to 4' as the compost process progresses (last turns) to keep the pile more compact.

**** Ok - now all that explained - here are my questions. There are so many different ideas on composting - everyone please throw in their two cents.

On reccommendation from an old grower who used to grow cubes back in the day - I use the following supplements : screened chicken manure (from broilers - more nutritious), bran, mollasses + gypsum. I like these supplements as they are available locally for me any most anyone (I.E. I cannot get cotton seed hulls or meal, no rapeseed here, etc.)

*** I would like the publics interpretation of how much of these supplements should be added to the pile and at what times (on what days) during the compost process *** Keep in mind it is cold here outside and will be a hard endevour to get the pile to 160 deg... I will be heating the building the pile is in to make sure the pile heats properly.

It generally takes me 20-24 days to fully compost such a pile. SO FAR I have built the pile with the chopped straw and evenly mixed in some chicken manure. I wet the hell out of the pile as the straw has only just begun to break down.

Yes this is all worth it. Compost results in *fat* shrooms.


BROILER CHICKEN MANURE (DRY): 185 lbs (which was 180 Litres volume BTW)

Anyone have ideas on other supplements one could use - soybean meal? etc... Add them when?? What do ya'll think of adding gypsum to the tune of 2% of the total dry weight? The link for the formula I posted above would only have me adding 80 lbs of manure at this point - which is very low - especially when you see what 80 shredded bales looks like next to the 4 20L pails that would be the 80 lbs of the manure.....

In past piles - I would be adding an additional 200 lbs. of manure, 75 lbs of bran and 40 litres (80 litres diluted) of molasses. 60-80 lbs gypsum.
I have a hard time getting the firefang. I do have temp probes buried in the pile.

This pile is to grow cubes. Can anyone comment on the nutritional requirements of cubes VS. agaricus??

HELP!! (and THANKS!)

P.S... I'm just getting to read the archives on this topic from this site...

e-mail me at shoebottom911@yahoo.com if you like

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Registered: 02/26/05
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Re: Compost... Formula...... Anyone? Need advice [Re: shoebottom]
    #4883534 - 11/02/05 12:09 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)


I answered this at Topia as well....

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Registered: 10/02/05
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Re: Compost... Formula...... Anyone? Need advice [Re: Hotnuts]
    #4883561 - 11/02/05 12:18 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

P. Cubensis Growth Parameters
"All mushrooms are edible, but some only once."
-- Croatian Proverb

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Re: Compost... Formula...... Anyone? Need advice [Re: shoebottom]
    #4883764 - 11/02/05 01:25 PM (18 years, 7 months ago)

I. Guidelines for calculating pre/compost nitrogen (N) content:
Calculate the starting N content of pile to be 1.5 to 1.7% before composting. The starting N for a synthetic compost formulas may be slightly higher than the wheat straw horse manure formulas. The percent N will increase throughout Phase I composting and Phase II and at spawning time the N content of the compost should be 2.1-2.6 %.

Knowing the N and % moisture of the bulk ingredients and supplements will increase the accuracy of the calculated and finished nitrogen content. If supplements are added by volume, occasionally weigh volume added to confirm calculated formula.

At the end of Phase I and again at the end of Phase II, compost may be analyzed for N, ammonia, ash and moisture. It is important to take a representative samples, several small handfuls thoroughly mixed. When taking a sample do not shake the compost.

II. Examples of Mushroom Compost Formulas

Horse manure pile
Ingredients Wet Wt. Dry Wt. %N Tons N
Horse manure 80 T 50 T 1.2% 0.6 T
Poultry manure 7.5 T 6.0 T 4 % 0.24 T
Brewers Grains 2.5 T 2.5 T 4 % 0.1 T
Gypsum 1.25 T 1.25 T 0 0
59.75 T 0.94 ? 59.75 = 1.57%

Synthetic pile
Ingredients Wet Wt. Dry Wt. %N Tons N
Hay 15 T 12.8 T 2.0 % 0.26 T
Cobs 15 T 12.8 T 0.3 % 0.04 T
Poultry manure 3.8 T 2.4 T 4 % 0.09 T
NH4NO3 0.3 T 0.3 T 32% 0.10 T
Potash 0.3 T 0.3 T 0.0 0.00
Gypsum 0.6 T 0.6 T 0.0 0.00
29.2 T 0.49 ? 29.2 = 1.68%

Horse manure-synthetic blend
Ingredients Wet Wt. Dry Wt. %N Tons N
Horse manure 15 T 10.5 T 1.2% 0.13
Hay 7.5 T 6.3 T 1.1% 0.07
Corn Cobs 7.5 T 6.4 T 0.3% 0.02
Brewer's grains 3.0 T 3.0 T 4.0% 0.12
Poultry manure 2.0 T 2.0 T 4.5% 0.09
Urea 0.1 T 0.1 T 44.0% 0.06
Potash 0.2 T 0.2 T 0.0% 0.00
Gypsum 1.0 T 1.0 T 0.0% 0.00
29.5 0.49 ? 29.5 = 1.66%

III. Suggested watering procedures during composting:

Add as much water as possible without run off during pre-wet conditioning or during the first two turns. Avoid adding too much water early during Phase I, always be able to control moisture. Add only enough during next turn or turns to wet dry spots. Bring up compost moisture to desired water content by adequate watering just before filling.

During pre-wet it is advisable to flip or turn the compost every day. After the rick or pile is built, the compost should be turn every other day unless pile temperatures have not peaked.

IV. Changes in organic matter, carbohydrates and nitrogen during mushroom composting.

Soluble carbohydrates are simply adsorbed by the micro-organisms and it is converted into new living matter or provides energy for the cells. As these micro-organism grow energy in the form of heat is released.

As the pile heats to temperature above 150o F the activities occurring within the pile change from biological to chemical reactions. It is at these higher temperatures that carmelization takes place. Carmelization is the process where water is eliminated from the carbohydrates and carbon is concentrated. This process can be compared to boiling sap down to make maple sugar.

V. Phase I is considered complete when as soon as the raw ingredients become pliable and are capable of holding water, the odor of ammonia is sharp and the dark brown color indicates carmelization and browning reactions have occurred.

Moisture content at filling should be 70-73%. Water should drip from compost squeezed in the hand. But a good rule of thumb to follow is: the longer, greener or more coarse the compost then more moisture it can take. The shorter, more mature or dense the compost the less water it should have.

The shorter or wetter the compost, the more loosely it should be filled into the beds or trays. The longer or greener the compost, the more it can be firmed into the beds. Attempt to fill uniformly in both depth and compaction. Edges or sideboards should be packed slightly tighter, whereas the center should remain looser.

VI. Phase II composting has two objectives:

Pasteurization - elimination of undesirable insect pest, microbes and pathogens.

Conditioning - Creation of specific food for the mushroom and creating a selective and suppressive compost to favor the growth of the mushroom.
VII. Insure adequate ventilation during Phase II. When in doubt, ventilate. A flame should be burn at all times.

The higher the nitrogen content of compost, the greener the compost or the more dry weight at filling time, the greater the ventilation required. When outside temperature is high as in summer or early fall, more ventilation is required than when Phase II occurs during the cold winter weather. This is especially important when the grower does not have a forced air ventilation system.

VIII. During Phase II keep compost in the temperature range where microorganisms grow best (115-140o F).

Microbes convert ammonia and ammonia containing salts into protein and other nitrogen compounds the mushroom uses for food. The growth of these microbes depends on having the available food, adequate moisture, sufficient oxygen and suitable temperature. A shortage of one of these requirements will limit growth and often results in incomplete conditioning.

IX. Heat up (pasteurization) for insect kill early in Phase II (perhaps 1-4 days after filling) so as to avoid a second heating cycle of the compost.

A good indication that the compost is ready to pasteurized, is the subsiding of microbial activity, which is indicated by a decrease in compost temperature at the same air temperature.

X. After pasteurization slowly lower compost through the temperature ranges of the microorganisms. A general rule is to lower compost temperature no more than 4-5o F. per day.

Provided that enough food, water and oxygen the microbes will continue to grow. Different microbes use different compounds and grow at different temperatures. Therefore it is important to make sure all areas of the beds and room gradually drop through all temperatures ranges.

Thermophillic fungi grow at lower temperatures and are important because they are able to grow into denser areas of compost.

XI. Composting is considered compete when no trace of ammonia odor can be detected and the compost has a uniform flecking of white colonies of actinomycetes, called fire-fang. The N content on a dry wt. basis should be in the range of 2.0 to 2.6.


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