The first ever Mushroom Information Day took place at Wageningse Berg Hotel in the afternoon of Thursday 26 February 2015. The Information Day, which attracted 110 participants, was organised by the ZLTO (Southern Agriculture and Horticulture Organisation) mushroom sector together with DLV Plant, Wageningen UR Plant Breeding and the growers’ association Funghi. Because there is no longer a Horticulture Commodities Board with its advisory programme committee, a good platform for discussing ideas on communication and knowledge transfer was lacking. The Information Day is an attempt to fill this gap. Judging by the reactions of the participants, both this method of conveying information and the direct contact with researchers were much appreciated.
The chairman Anton Sonnenberg (Wageningen UR) opened the afternoon session, which consisted of 8 lectures in 3 parallel sessions. One of the sessions focused on the results of the EU-funded project MushTV. This project deals with controlling the fungal infection Trichoderma aggressivum in substrate as well as Mushroom Virus X (presented by Rob Maas from the growers’ association Funghi). Johan Baars (Wageningen UR) explained the importance of good disinfection and described the results of the MushTV project on the subject. Inge Knijnenburg from FLM Food Ingredients concluded this session, pointing out the importance of cleaning and disinfection in relation to food safety requirements.
Food from substrate
In a second session, Anton Sonnenberg described research on the utilisation of the different substrate components by the button mushroom substrate. Bart de Leeuw (Havens) continued on this theme with a lecture on how supplements can improve the nutritional value of substrate for mushrooms. The second session finished with a presentation Johan Baars gave on taste research in button mushrooms and the opportunities for enhancing the taste of present varieties by exploiting the Plant Breeding’s collection wild lines and alternative cultivation methods.
Energy costs of mushroom cultivation
The third session concentrated entirely on ways of limiting energy costs in mushroom cultivation. Jan Gielen and Erik Polman from DLV Plant explained how bed cooling can enhance the quality of cultivation, in combination with various substrate weights. In addition they described how to optimise the process of steaming the substrate after cultivation. There was also a presentation of the project Energetic Mushroom Growers (Energieke Paddenstoeltelers) to investigate the possibilities of reducing energy bills by using solar panels, thermal energy storage and the fermentation of ‘champost’ mushroom substrate.
Geert Hermans from ZLTO closed the afternoon with a lecture on the best methods for developing innovative ideas that can lead to a new company or industry sector.