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Ongoing project

Optimising nitrogen transformations in mushroom production (MU17004)

Key research provider: The University of Sydney

What’s it all about?

This project will ultimately help mushroom growers to optimise the rate and timing of nitrogen additions, to achieve maximum yield and nutritional value.

The project team are currently exploring the fate of nitrogen used in mushroom production and composting, including developing a better understanding the microorganisms that are involved in transforming the nitrogen that is added throughout the mushroom production process into other forms. They are also looking at ways and timings to maximise nitrogen use efficiency and promote nitrogen retention for composting, and more. A best practice guide for growers will be produced out of the project findings.

The project team commenced work in January 2019 and have already isolated and characterised a substantial collection of bacterial strains taken from a range of Australian compost yards in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. These samples represent the dominant cultivable bacteria in composts and will underpin the rest of the project.

Many of the most prevalent strains identified were very similar, despite coming from different geographical areas, confirming the conserved biological nature of mushroom composting across Australia.

Analysis of the composts revealed that many of the dominant species have not yet been captured in the strain collection. These are now being targeted using specifically designed growth media and selective conditions.

A detailed survey regarding current nitrogen management by Australian composters was started, with field trips to facilities in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, and visits planned to Queensland. The results of this confidential survey will be used to identify composting yards that represent the diversity of processes in the Australian industry, informing the project’s detailed nitrogen balance studies.


Read an overview of the project in this article, Optimisation of nitrogen use in mushroom production, published on pages 34-35 in the spring 2019 edition of the Australian Mushrooms Journal.


Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund