Organic, indoor mushroom production is challenged by contamination. This contamination may be brought in on the grow blocks, in the fresh air that is cycled in multiple times per hour, or on workers. Some contaminants, such as Trichoderma, are so ubiquitous in the natural environment that they are difficult to eliminate with air filters or general sanitation efforts. Other contaminants, such as Neurospora, are less common, but extremely difficult to eliminate once they have sporulated in the grow space.
Current organic production allows for use of common bleach; however, it is hazardous for the environment and workers. Ideally, mushroom producers would have a disinfectant that is safe for workers and the environment, food safe, and highly effective at preventing and eliminating contamination, and simple to use.
We have tested single-stream Electrolyzed Water in a limited capacity and documented a 75% reduction in Trichoderma (commonly known as Green Mold) on shiitake grow blocks. This proposal is to perform a comprehensive test of single-stream electrolyzed water on shiitake and oyster grow blocks applied with electrostatic sprayers.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to determine if new, affordable technology to produce Electrolyzed Water will result in a product effective for reducing contamination on mushrooms for small scale producers. Like other small-scale producers, the weather has a significant impact on production so the test will be repeated 8 times to account for variation in outside temperature and humidity.
In addition to testing the effectiveness of Electrolyzed Water, we will also evaluate three new systems for producing single-stream Electrolyzed Water. They vary in required inputs and consistency of output. These will be evaluated for ease of use, cost effectiveness, and reliability.
This project will also evaluate equipment for applying the water. Excess water sitting on mushrooms can cause deterioration so this project will review electrostatic sprayers which produce an ultrafine mist that thoroughly coats the surface while also evaporating quickly. Sprayers will be evaluated for ease of use, cost effectiveness, and reliability.
Finally, this information will be shared with other mushroom producers through a special event with the Toxics Use Reduction Institute and Lowell Center for Sustainable Production. While the equipment is being tested on mushrooms, Electrolyzed Water and electrostatic sprayers may have other applications for produce farmers.