Volume 12 Part 1 Article 41: Earthworm Casts as Casing Layer in Agaricus bisporus Cultivation

Volume 12 Part 1 Article 41
Year 1989
Title: Earthworm Casts as Casing Layer in Agaricus bisporus Cultivation
Authors: U. Tomati, A. Grappelli, E. Galli and J.S. Hard


Peat is generally regarded as the most suitable casing medium because of its characteristics, physical structure and water-holding capacity. Many soils, containing at least 5 % organic matter, could be employed as a peat substitute, although carpophore production is always inferior.

The content in organic matter is an important factor for fruiting processes since its ability in the maintenance of the casing structure which assures a proper gaseous exchange and an equilibrate development of microflora.

When appropriate soils are not locally available, compost from crop or organic waste are alternatively used because of their organic matter content and properties able to assure favourable conditions for carpophore fructification. Among the composts, earthworm casting could be regarded as an interesting medium which could be employed with success as a casing, in view of its physical characteristics and microbiological properties (Tomati et al. 1983; Tomati et al. 1985).

Casting infact has a neutral pH and, because of its content in organic matter and granular structure, stays porous even after a succession of watering, holds moisture, allows appropriate gaseous exchanges and supports a microbial population able to release hormone-like substances which are very likely involved in stimulating the initiation of fruit bodies (Eger 1962; 0’Donoghue 1965; Curto and Favilli 1971; Eger 1972; Hume and Hayes 1972 and Nair 1975; Giovannozzi-Sermanni et al. 1976 and Grappelli et al. 1978).

The stimulating effect of casting on carpophore formation of Agaricus bisporus has been previously made evident and discussed mainly on the basis of its hormone-like effect (Tomati et al. 1985; Grappelli et al. 1986).

Experiments concerning the utilization of casting as a casing layer in Agaricus bisporus cultivation has been subsequentely carried out in a limited scale in climatized rock caves in order to evaluate the possibility of its real application.

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