On 16 May, the Sikes mushroom farm in Ysselsteyn, the Netherlands, hosted the fifth edition of the Dutch National Mushroom Day. Several hundred Dutch, and a few Belgian visitors registered to attend.
The theme at this edition was ‘Innovation’. The successful combi-formula seen at the previous edition – a small-scale conference organised on a mushroom farm – was repeated, with the venue this year being the highly modern farm owned by the Sikes family.
The proceedings were opened by Ko Hooymans, chairman of the mushroom group at horticultural organisation ZLTO, who complimented the Dutch mushroom sector with its efforts to increase sustainability and cut costs. And that at a time when disappointing results stand in the way of funding innovative investments.
Jan Gielen (DLV Plant Mushrooms) presented the initial findings of the ‘Together in bed cooling’ project, in which a network of Dutch mushroom growers, suppliers, researchers and consultants are working on higher production, shorter cropping cycles and energy savings through applying bed cooling.
Rien van der Maas (PPO Randwijk/WUR) explained more about upgrading spent mushroom compost via phosphate extraction, a development motivated by the problematic, expensive removal of this product. The first results are promising; research is currently being done into process techniques and a pilot in a practical situation (Agrivalid) will probably be run this summer.
Uli Schnier from Fair Produce was satisfied with the results booked by FP, whereby exploitation of labour in the Netherlands has been reduced, although he admitted that even with this ‘license to produce’ the sector still has some way to go.
Erwin Braak from the Interpolis insurance company gave some tips regarding risk reduction at farm level.
After the plenary session with the lectures, groups could enjoy a guided tour of the premises.
Gerard and Karin Sikes’ farm is an extensive mechanical harvesting facility, with 16 growing rooms, 8 tiers high, each measuring 1306 square metres. The farm is highly mechanised, in line with many modern mechanised farms, but it also features some innovations in fire prevention, climatization and champost disposal.
After the tour, visitors enjoyed some time together in the sunshine with a chilled beer, a bag of chips and a ‘frikandel’ sausage. Not really innovative, but typically Dutch all the same!
Read an extensive report on the Mushroom Day in Mushroom Business no 65 (June).