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Completed project

Understanding and managing the impacts of climate change on Australian mushroom production (MU17008)

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research
Publication date: Friday, May 29, 2020

What was it all about?

Climate variability and change present a range of potential risks to the technical and economic viability of Australian mushroom growers, compost producers and support industries. This short project, which ran from 2019 to 2020, identified climate-related risks across production regions, now and into the future. It also worked with industry on a regional basis to look at how to manage these risks and how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help mitigate them, while providing education on how improving environmental performance can be used to a marketing advantage.

The research team began by performing a desktop review to summarise the latest science of climate change and the expected impacts that may affect the mushroom industry. It reviews how mushroom and compost producers in Australia and globally are adapting to the expected impacts of climate change, as well as reducing their environmental impact. The review is available here.

Identifying potential risks

The project team consulted 20 mushroom growers, representing 73 per cent of Australian production and seven composters. Each participant was asked about their climate risk preparations, as well as new strategies to manage climate-related impacts on their businesses. From these discussions, several key risks were identified (as below) and a summary document can be viewed here.

  • Availability of peat for casing
  • Availability, cost and quality of wheat straw for compost
  • Availability and quality of manure for compost
  • Impacts of temperature extremes on compost production, growing and transport
  • Energy – reliability of the power grid and costs of electricity and gas
  • Government emissions control policies
  • Water availability, cost and quality for compost production and mushroom growing
  • Pests and diseases, increased fly activity and the spread of disease, weed moulds and Trichoderma.

Case studies for adaptation and mitigation

The project team reviewed adaptation and mitigation options that are currently in use worldwide and developed six case studies outlining opportunities for the mushroom industry to consider, available to download here.

Recommendations for industry

The following recommendations are made to address gaps in knowledge and future R&D requirements. Together with the adaptation and mitigation options provided, the mushroom industry can reduce future climate change risks.

  1. Identify and test alternative casing materials
  2. Optimise compost made from lower quality, shorter straw and different manure sources
  3. Evaluate the use of soil moisture sensors for managing irrigation in mushroom growing
  4. Develop a smart cookout approach using qPCR disease identification to determine pathogens present and determine when cookout is needed.
  5. Understand cookout timing and temperatures required to control specific diseases in growing rooms.
  6. Investigate likely changes in mushroom disease, including smoky mould
  7. Investigate the technical feasibility and marketing opportunities of carbon neutral mushrooms
  8. Establish a solar buying group for mushroom producers
  9. Pilot biogas energy generation on-farm.