Phase I Formulation & composting
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Unlike green plants, mushrooms lack the ability to use energy from the sun because they do not have chlorophyll. Rather, mushrooms extract ALL of their energy in the forms of carbohydrates and proteins from the medium in which they are grown. Some call this medium mushroom substrate; others call it mushroom compost.
Because it is the source of ALL food for the growing mushrooms, it is crucial that the mushroom substrate meet very specific requirements for the growth and fruiting of mushrooms.
Mushroom substrate consists of a scientific formulation of various materials consisting principally of wheat straw, and dry poultry manure; smaller amounts of other organic materials may be added.
- At All Seasons achieving the correct moisture level within the straw takes minutes rather than the conventional 2-4 days.
- Bales of straw are put through an automatic hydrating and processing line. The hydrator, one of three in the world, quickly brings the moisture level to approximately 75 percent.
Image of Hydrating Line
- On the processing line, the bales are then de-stringed and broken up.
- Dry poultry manure is metered as the freshly broken straw is discharged from the processing line.
- At All Seasons, the broken material is put into large chambers called aerated bunkers. This is the beginning of the Phase I process.
- Each bunker is equipped with an air distribution system with pipes and nozzles dispersed below the concrete floor. The nozzles protrude through the floor and provide the precise amounts of air to supply oxygen to the microbes and chemical reactions which is essential in the decomposition of the organic materials while at the same time substantially reducing unpleasant odors.
- This stage of the process takes approximately 7 to 10 days and during this time, the substrate reaches temperatures of approximately 80 degrees Celsius (approx. 175 degrees F.)
Image of Aerated Bunkers
- The substrate is then moved onto a large concrete slab (called a wharf) and formed into “rics” with the aid of traditional and specialized heavy equipment. Rics are long, “windrow-like” piles of substrate, up to 500 feet in length.
- A “turner”, manufactured precisely for this purpose, turns the substrate as required, providing the required aerobic conditions while adding any additional water requirements.
All processed waters are recycled back into the process and fresh water is added as required.
This stage of the process takes approximately 7 to 10 days
- After approximately 21 days, the substrate, referred to in the industry as PHASE I substrate, is loaded onto trucks and transported to a PHASE II process building to be pasteurized and conditioned.
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