Aug 10, 2012
Mushroom industry has the option to stop depleting natural resourcesBack
Mabu Casing Soils|Sasol|Canada|Ireland|South Africa|University Of Pretoria|Chemicals|Energy|Nonsustainable Solution|Soil Producer|Transport|Linda Meyer
© Reuse this
Casing soil producer Mabu Casing Soils managing member Dr Linda Meyer says the substrate has the potential to protect the South African mushroom industry against currency fluctuations, increased environmental concerns and peatland depletion.
Mabu Casing Soils was established in 2011 to commercialise the Mabu substrate. The company is the sole intellectual property licensee and holds the rights to sublicence the technology globally.
Meyer reports that the technology has been successfully scaled up from the laboratory phase to the intermediate phase and is now in the commercial phase.
“The commercialisation process has been supported by energy and chemicals group Sasol’s enterprise development division Sasol Chemcity.
“We are currently at a production rate of 860 t/y and aim to produce 30 000 t/y [of casing soil],” Meyer states.
The search for a local alternative substrate to peat soil has been driven and funded by the South African Mushroom Farmers’ Association (Samfa) since 2002 and has been a focus of the mushroom research programme at UP, she adds.
Peat is a nonrenewable fossil fuel and South Africa currently imports peat soil for button mushroom production from the northern hemisphere, which is a nonsustainable solution.
She points out there has been considerable global environmental pressure against extracting this nonrenewable fossil fuel for use in the horticultural and mushroom industries.
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation and forms when plant material, usually in wet areas, is inhibited by acidic and anaerobic conditions from decaying fully.
One of the most common northern-hemisphere peat components is sphagnum moss, but South Africa’s peatlands mainly comprise decomposed reeds, sedges and grasses.
The South African peatlands are less than 10 000 years old and form at a slow rate of 0.5 mm to 1 mm a year. Thousands of tons of peat have been mined outside Ventersdorp, Potchefstroom and Tarlton for the local mushroom industry.
In 2007, Samfa decided to stop the use of South African-mined peat to ensure that local resources are not depleted and is importing 50 000 t/y of peat soil at a high cost from the Neth- erlands, Canada and Ireland.
“While our remaining local resources are protected, global resources are still being depleted. Of all the natural ecosystems, peatlands are the most vulnerable to sustaining irreversible damage.
“Further, these wetlands are biodiversity hotspots and home to many endangered species. It is reported that these wetlands store at least 550 Gt of carbon – double that of the world’s forest biomass,” Meyer points out.
She adds that healthy peat absorbs and stores carbon, which is a major environmental benefit.
When peat is excavated, the organic carbon that has been stored and built up inside the material over thousands of years decomposes and is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).
“About three-billion tons of CO2 a year are emitted through the unearthing and use of peat,” reports Meyer.
She states that the Mabu substrate will help the local mushroom industry preserve natural peatlands and endangered spe- cies, as well as maintain an environmental balance.
“The Mabu casing also offers potential for local production, which creates jobs and adds value to a waste product. It reduces transport and input costs for the mushroom farming industry.
The high carbon footprint of shipping and transporting the imported casing soil is a further incentive to seek a local alter- native casing substrate for button mushroom production,” says Meyer.
Mabu Casing Development
Between 2002 and 2008, the UP studied wattle bark, filter-cake, coir, braak seedling mix, oasis, boiler smuts, spent mushroom compost, perlite, vermiculite, clay, calcium bentonite, water hyacinth and sugarcane bagasse alternatives.
Nevertheless, the UP decided in 2009 to take raw substrates and change it according to the industry’s needs.
“Raw sugarcane bagasse pith is not suitable as a casing soil,” Meyer reports.
Instead, we developed a process to deplete the nutrients in the pith and improve the structure without losing its exceptional water holding capacity. This is how the Mabu casing came about,” she notes.
The process was patented by the UP in 2010 after an invention disclosure was filed with the university’s Department of Research and Innovation Support.
“We are increasing Mabu casing production as we advance in the commercial phase and realise that we still have a long way to go before we reach the 60 000 t required by the industry every year, which is what we hope to achieve in future,” Meyer concludes.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines
Other Agriculture News
Local food factory Paarman Foods factory in Constantia, Cape Town has undergone major renovations using Saint-Gobain Gyproc’s innovative products to meet the needs of the plant, reports Paarman Foods in a statement. Company MD Graham Paarman says the company needed...
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Agency has, through one of its flagship programmes - the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) – been intensifying talks on growing agriculture capacity and thereby eradicating hunger...
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
This Week's Magazine
A structured approach, wherein managers personally engage at each level of the project, is necessary to mitigate delays to the workflow on mega construction projects, says State-owned Eskom Kusile power station projects GM Abram Masango. The 4 800 MW Kusile power...
Construction of transmission lines to evacuate power from a regional hydroelectric project in East Africa, which was hanging on the balance following the withdrawal of financing by key partners, is now back on track. After six months of uncertainty, the African...
Three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between South African and Malaysian companies at the Malaysian High Commission in Pretoria on Friday. These MoUs are part of the indirect offsets programme South Africa is providing in return for Malaysia’s...
The South African new vehicle market may well dip to 640 000 units in 2014, says Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) sales and marketing senior VP Calvyn Hamman. This is the first prediction that anticipates a drop in the market. To date economists and industry bodies...
Nissan will re-enter the South African minibus taxi industry in March, when the new NV350 Impendulo goes on sale. The 16-seater has been specifically tailored to meet the terms of government’s Taxi Recapitalisation Programme, which aims to replace South Africa’s...