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Spent Mushroom Waste an Alternative Raw material for

Large Scale Composting Process
Dr.P.Muralikkannan, Scientist, MB&DL, Chengelpet

This explores the status of biocomposting process and the available alternate source
of raw material for composting process. This paper reveals the assessment of bio-
compost produced with alternate raw material sources like Mushroom waste, press
mud & coir pith in large scale composting. The aim of these compounded materials is
to be used instead of conventional raw materials. The fresh spent mushroom waste
available in mushroom factories has the high nutritive value suitable and support for
all plant growth. Due to its nature of high aeration porosity, water holding capacity
and nutrition’s it can be used as one of the source for composting with other raw
material to improve the nutritive and quality of finished products.

Abundant availability of organic wastes pose problem of disposal. Bio-conversion of
these renewable wastes would solve pollution problems and also the organic wastes
become available for soil enrichment. Bio-degradation of various agro and agro-
industrial wastes could be accomplished through several micro organisms to degrade
lignocelluloses complex. Biological pretreatment of lignocelluloses wastes with
mushroom fungi might become economically and environmentally attractive. Spent
mushroom substrate is likely to be an excellent physical and nutritional source for
composting along with other raw materials.

The mushroom industries are expanded rapidly in the last decade, particularly in our
country. Its success has generated concern, however, as the production of spent
mushroom compost (SMC) has increased. Until recently, SMC as an agricultural waste
has been disposed of without due consideration to the environment. As PCB
increasingly addresses environmental pollution, restrictions will prevent expansion of
the mushroom industry without an SMC waste management solution. This paper
looks at the availability and composition of SMC and considers its potential as an
alternative raw material source for large scale composting units.

Spent mushroom compost (SMC) is a major waste of the mushroom industry with low
economic value. SMC arises after mushroom production in phase II compost (pIIC),
predominantly comprising straw and chicken litter as principal raw ingredients. The
majority of SMC waste is disposed off by application to agricultural land. It is an
attractive proposition for utilizing SMC as soil inorganic fertilizer supplementation.
However, there is limited data available as to the consequences of this method of
disposal either in terms of microbiological loading of food-borne pathogens and those
of concern to mushroom industry itself. The resulting imbalance of the natural flora of
the agricultural land has not been properly audited. The main aim is to adopt an
effective utilization system for using SMC waste as one of the source fro large scale
production of organic process.
Spent Mushroom waste a potential source for large
scale compost units in India:
The waste compost from the mushroom growing industry, known as spent mushroom
compost (SMC) is disposed of locally, either by land spreading or by landfill. The high
phosphorus content of the SMC is causing serious environment pollution problems, to
such an extent that the mushroom growing industry cannot expand and may in fact
be forced, by their local councils, to find alternative SMC disposal routes or close
down. In this context the a new approach has been initiated by the MB&DL, under
the waste management programme, aim is potential utilization of mushroom waste
and converting in to a non toxic organic manure for agriculture uses.

There are pressures to reduce the quantity of SMC spread on the land in order to
improve river water quality, there is legislation in place to progressively increase
landfill tax, and there are pressures to reduce the quantity of organic material sent to
landfill sites. All of these will impact on the present disposal costs and make use of
mushroom waste as alternate raw material for organic manure production a viable
option for securing the future of the mushroom growing industry in this region.

The spent mushroom compost (SMC) is presently transported to local area farms,
dumped, and tilled in. This technique is considered more as waste disposal than as a
value added soil amendment (0.5% N). A possible alternative use for SMC waste
would be used as a alternative source for organic manure production. The Satharishi
mushroom industry generated about 80 -100 tons of waste per day.

Composting is an age old practice of waste management whereby the organic
components of various waste streams are biologically decomposed under controlled
conditions to a stabilized state in which they can be safely handled, stored or applied
to land as a soil amendment. Composting can occur in the presence of oxygen
referred to as aerobic composting or in the absence of oxygen referred to as
anaerobic composting.

Most modern compost systems are aerobic for several reasons. One, the aerobic
composting process is generally free from objectionable odor. Two, aerobic
composting can inactivate pathogens and weed seeds. Three, the process is
inexpensive and requires little technological input.

The present status of mushroom cultivation:

Mushroom cultivation is a direct utilization of their ecological role in the
bioconversion of solid wastes generated from industry and agriculture into edible
biomass, which could also be regarded as a functional food or as a source of drugs
and pharmaceuticals. To make the mushroom cultivation an environmentally friendly
industry, the basic biology of mushrooms and the cultivation technology must be
researched and developed. Spent mushroom compost, a bulky solid waste generated
from the mushroom industry, however, can be exploited as a soil fertilizer, used as
alternate source for co composting and as a prospective bioremediating agent.
Mushroom compost waste:

Spent mushroom compost is the residual compost waste generated by the
mushroom production industry. It is easily available, and its formulation consists of a
combination of wheat straw, dried blood, horse manure and ground chalk, composted
together. It is an excellent source of humus, although much of its nitrogen content
will have been used up by the growing mushrooms. It remains, however, a good
source of general nutrients (0.7% N, 0.3% P, 0.3% K plus a full range of trace
elements), as well as a useful soil conditioner.

 Used for button mushroom production in mushroom farms
 Compost: straw, poultry manure, horse manure and gypsum
 After 3 weeks of production process (Phase II compost)
 Casing layer: peat and chalk

Generation of Mushroom waste:
In India, around 20,000 tons of fresh button mushroom are produced
annually and out which about 10- 15 % of mushroom production
shared by Tamilnadu and near by state. Approximately, 5 kg of
mushroom waste is being generated to produce one kg of fresh
 5 kg of compost waster for one kg mushroom
 Approximate production of 80 – 100mt per day in one ton
production unit

Constrains in using mushroom waste as such in agriculture:
The basic property of mushroom waste restricting its implementation in agriculture
use is a high concentration of soluble salts. Apart from salinity, the fresh mushroom
waste is rich source of nutrients, which make it well suited for supporting plant
growth and make nutrient rich compost with other organic wastes.Due to its chalk
content, it is highly alkaline, and should not be used on acid-loving plants, nor should
it be applied too frequently, as it will overly raise the soil's pH levels. Mushroom
compost may also contain pesticide residues, particularly organochlorides used
against the fungus gnat. Chemicals may also have been used to treat the straw, and
also to sterilize the compost. Therefore, the organic gardener must be careful
regarding the sourcing of mushroom compost.

Constrains in disposal of mushroom waste:
 Mostly land filled as agriculture waste
 Environmental Impact on landfill of SMC
 Contamination of groundwater and rivers due to high phosphorous content of
 Leaching of nitrate (NO3-) and some compounds used for sterilization or as

Reuses of Spent Mushroom compost waste as a source for organic
manure production:
The mushroom growing industry generates about 200 M ton/yr of spent mushroom
compost (SMC). With the nutrients “spent”, this material is not suitable for reuse in
agriculture as such and it is now deposited in landfill. The novel approach is to divert
SMC waste from landfill in an environmentally friendly manner through its reuse with
other organic waste to manufacture nutrient rich organic manure for agriculture use.
Considering its abundance and remarkable physical, chemical and attributes, spent
mushroom waste can conceivably replace in some other mixture of organic waste
used for manufacturing compost. An obvious solution to the disposal problem is to
increase the demand the demand for spent mushroom waste through exploration and
new application to use as source for compost manufacturing.

Common Ingredients of Mushroom waste:
Wheat straw/paddy straw Cotton seed hull/pulse seed hull
Horse manure Poultry manure
Hay Brewer’s grain
Corn cobs Cotton seed meal
Cocoa bean hull Gypsum

Characteristic of Mushroom waste:
 High Organic matter content
 High moisture content
 Moderate plant nutrient content
 Relatively low bulk density
 Unbalance distribution of major plant nutrients

Chemical analysis of mushroom waste:

Substrat pH EC(ds.m- No3-N P K ca Mg
e 1
) (mg-L
) (mg-L
) (mg-L
) (mg-L
) (mg-L
waste 8 25.6 23.6 28.0 7430 1108 376

Spent Mushroom waste as source for N&P
Because of their nature of the waste it contains more amounts of N & P sources and it
can be used as supplement in the compost material to improve the N&P level.
 Insufficient source for plant cultivation
 To be supplemented by other N sources to optimize
 Effective sources of P nutrient

Advantage of using mushroom waste in composting:
The following are advantage in using mushroom waste as one of alternate raw material
source for large scale composting of different organic waste.

 Improve the quality of compost by increasing high nutrient content
 More air filled pore space for better plant growth
 Improve water holding capacity
 Effective utilization of alternate raw material for compost preparation
 Reduces the production cost by 30 to 40 % level