Author： Shih Hsin-Der, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan
Button mushroom industry used to be of great agricultural value in Taiwan. The amount of button mushroom cans for export in the 1960s and 70s was the highest in the world and brought in substantial foreign trade earnings. Button mushroom is still an important part of edible and medicinal mushrooms. However, labor shortage and unstable composting quality of the composts have been problems facing the industry in recent years and have restricted its development.
The conventional composting method for composts is quite labor intensive (at least 4-8 people involved at a time) and uses steam heat generated by fuel oil for sterilization (using about 50 liters of oil for a room of around 80 square meters). The product is of uneven quality and low yield and the process often emits odor and other pollutions.
The new "indoor composting technology of compost for mushroom production" developed by the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute has the composting done indoors. It has the advantages of low air pollution, high compost quality, short timeline of production, and stabilized productivity. With the introduction of R&D results of smart agriculture, a multi-stage intelligent software system for the homogeneous-temperature manufacturing process has been developed. This system, in conjunction with the environmental sensing and monitoring components and the proportional-integral control (PID) module technology, is applied to precisely control the composting process of button mushroom, which contributes to stable production of high quality mushrooms throughout the year. Compared with 20 people needed in one plant before the introduction of the above technology, there is now a 70% reduction of manpower needed. The average annual production in a 250 square-meter growing room has increased from 5 to 15 tons with the new technology used.