CMP (Commercial Mushroom Producers) is one of Europe’s leading horticultural producer organisations. Their business is focused on developing a quality, sustainable and competitive industry in Ireland. They were established as a co-operative in 1999 and represent 90% of Irish mushroom production and growers. CMP represent over 40 mushroom growers and have a combined annual turnover of around €200million, its members employ circa 3,000 people.
Productivity levels of compost for mushrooms has a fundamental impact on the revenue potential for this sector. Recent events at a global level (Brexit) were devastating for the sector and even just the risk of Brexit resulted in a number of mushroom producers going out of business. All elements that may therefore result in greater productivity for minimal input will greatly support this sector. The project with Shannon ABC was built around this support. We screened mushroom compost at varying stages of use, producing a biological and chemical fingerprint of the compost, linked to productivity levels.
Solution through Shannon ABC
Shannon ABC provided a range of testing to quantify the composition of the compost for the company. These included biochemical, microbiological and analytical results. The combination of this information provided a blueprint for the company as to the characteristics of their compost prior, during and post growth. This has the potential for the CMP to determine productivity levels of the compost prior to mushroom growth, based solely on the compositional analysis. A key component of this work was Infra Red (IR) analysis, which was carried out in collaboration with CAPPA, the Photonics based Technology Gateway in Cork Institute of Technology. IR spectroscopy can be very sensitive to determination of functional groups within a sample since different functional groups absorbs different frequencies of IR radiation. Each molecule has a characteristic spectrum often referred to as its fingerprint. A molecule can also be identified by comparing its absorption peak to a data bank of spectra.
The data produced by Shannon ABC and CAPPA has provided CMP with information that they did not have previously. It allowed them to determine the qualitative difference between poor, medium and good mushroom yielding compost. Going forward it will enable CMP to ensure their compost is of a certain standard, guaranteeing a good crop of mushrooms.
“The results from a scientific report we commissioned from Shannon ABC greatly de-risked an investment by giving us a robust understanding of the technical capabilities of a particular type of scientific equipment. This understanding was used to fine tune a tender for the equipment that was performed early in the procurement process, meaning that we were best informed early on and thus got the machine most suited to our needs. We found Shannon ABC open, flexible and understanding of our requirements. CMP looks forward to further successful collaborations with Shannon ABC.”