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Production Technology for Mushroom Elephantgrass Growth Bags


Hsin-Der Shih (Researcher)

Mushroom Lab., Plant Pathology Division,

Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute,Council of Agriculture



        With the rapid development of the Taiwan's mushroom industry, the demand for growth bags that are used for mushroom cultivation is increasing. The number of mushrooms cultivated in growth bags is about 500 million bags a year. As per conservative estimation, at least 350,000 metric tons of sawdust is needed for mushroom cultivation each year. The industry is facing pressure from a shortage of sawdust and increasing costs. In recent years, the supply of sawdust raw material with stable quality has tightened due to economic, environmental and other factors. Therefore, it is an unavoidable issue to find renewable resources to replace sawdust.  

Elephantgrass (Pennisetum purpureum) contains 66% lignocellulose, of which hemicellulose accounts for 27%, cellulose accounts for 33%, and lignin accounts for 6%. “Taichu Pennisetum No. 2” bred by the Livestock Research Institute is not suitable for direct cattle feed because of its easy lignification, but it is very suitable for mushroom cultivation. If Elephantgrass can be developed to replace sawdust for making the space bags, it could provide an alternative for the forage industry, and help Taiwan's mushroom industry to solve the problem of sawdust shortage.  

This technology uses Elephantgrass powder provided by the Livestock Research Institute as the main substrate material for mushroom cultivation. The growth bag formula produced can completely replace sawdust. The mushroom cultivation experiment of the King oyster mushroom (Pleurotus eryngii) showed an effect of 10-15% yield and quality improvement. This technology can be transferred after being disclosed. The cultivated the King oyster mushroom space contains many active ingredients. After cultivating the King oyster mushroom, Elephantgrass has a large amount of active ingredients. According to the analysis, the mycelium has a crude polysaccharide of 31.62 mg/g dw, which is double 16.57 mg/g dw in growth bags with sawdust as the raw material; the protein content of its mycelium is 7-12%, which is also better than 5-9% of sawdust space bags. This Elephantgrass growth bag production technology not only can be used to cultivate the King oyster mushroom, but also be applied to other oyster mushrooms such as the Phoenix mushroom (Pleurotus sajor-caju) that needs space bags for cultivation.  

In addition, the mycelium-rich medium after mushroom harvest is currently being developed into an animal feed supplement in cooperation with the Hsinchu Branch of Livestock Research Institute, such as feed for lactating cows. In preliminary experiments for feeding the young calves, the King oyster mushroom mycelium were added into the feed, and the daily weight gain of the calf was 1.1 kg/day, slightly higher than 0.8 kg/day of the control group. This technology derivative will help the animal husbandry industry to maintain the health and production efficiency of livestock and poultry in the future, help the industry to develop new business operating models, and create the circular economy benefit of sharing forage between mushroom farmers and dairy farmers.