Volume 16 Part 1 Article 42: Reducing Variability in Mushroom Cropping Experiments

Volume 16 Part 1 Article 42
Year 2004
Title: Reducing Variability in Mushroom Cropping Experiments
Authors: A. Mead and R. Noble

Abstract:

The aim of this project was to identify the major sources of variability in the mushroom cropping process. Understanding these sources of variability will lead to more efficient experimentation through improved experimental design, and to the potential manipulation of the cultivation process to reduce experimental variability and increase crop uniformity. Multi-factorial trials were conducted to examine the variability in yield, quality and timing related to positional variation throughout the cropping process. The trials were designed to allow estimation of all main effects and interactions involving positional variation during Phases I and II of compost production, spawn-run and cropping. The major contribution to variability was provided by differences between layers in the cropping room. Variability due to positions in Phases I and II, and spawn-run depended on the time of year. Further multi-factorial trials were conducted to investigate the effect on cropping variability of six production factors; compost weight per tray, spawn rate, initial casing moisture, casing depth, watering regime and picking regime. The trials were designed to allow for positional variation, but allowed estimation of all main effects and interactions. With the exception of watering regime, all production factors had significant effects on the magnitude and variability of crop yield, timing and quality responses.

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