The Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute yesterday said it had developed a more efficient and environmentally-friendly method of growing oyster mushrooms using straw instead of wood chips,
Using straw saves about 9,000 to 18,000 tonnes in wood chips each year and increases output value without additional production costs.
Oyster mushroom is among the top five mushroom species cultivated in the country. It is popular among local consumers because of its flavor and because it is easy to cook, the institute said.
The mushrooms are commonly grown in cultivation bags filled with wood chips, with an average of 30 million bags being produced every year, using about 36,000 tonnes of wood chips, the institute said.
However, with the price of wood chips rising because of diminishing supply, the institute researched alternative ways to cultivating oyster mushrooms by replacing wood chips with straw, selective breeding and using newly developed automatic cultivation bags.
The institute said it recently succeeded in replacing 25 to 50 percent of the wood chips used for cultivation with straw.
Using straw not only lowers production costs, but is also more environmentally friendly, the institute said, adding that the new method would also help consume between 4,500 tonnes and 9,000 tonnes of straw a year.
Taiwan produces about 1.4 million tonnes of straw a year, which is usually burned on the spot, causing air pollution, it said.
The institute said the new cultivation method could also raise production by 9 to 15 percent, with the price per 10,000 bags of mushrooms rising from about NT$15,000 to NT$22,500.