James Lam

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since Oct 14, 2015
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Recent posts by James Lam

I'll certainly try alternative layers of white rot and brown rot fungi as you suggested. But i will need to figure out how to do the new layer sequencing. But I'm also curious if you simply mix the white and brown rot innoculants together, which i have come across a research paper that did this. They mixed the different fungi into a cocktail compost activator. Im thinking that the possibility may be because white rot feeds on lignin, and brown rot feeds on cellulose, so they don't get in each other's way despite close promixity. What are your thoughts? If I could so this, then I need not figure out how to do the new layering sequence, and use back the original formula.
5 years ago
Hi Byrant,

Glad to find out the pleurotus strain works best under thermophillic conditions. There was one confusing article that classified 'most' basidiomycetes (i.e. pleurotus strains) as mesophiles, but I also came across a few others reports that has lab-tests that proves pleurotus works best around 50C.

Like you said, if I do a new test, I think I should be able to get better results. Given that it will have a fresh source of urea nitrogen and high temperature to optimise fungal activity. And great suggestion about bottom aeration without disturbing the pile.

Another thing I'd like to do is add trichorderma spp to the mix. Because white rot primarily targets lignin and little cellulose. But trichoderma, being a brown rot, targets mainly cellulose breakdown vice versa. Do you see any clashes between these 2 fungi strains? Trichoderma infection is a big problem in oyster mushroom farm when it takes over. But in compost degradation, can they work hand in hand to break down the different elements, as you mentioned about competition being good? Will trichoderma perform well under thermophillic conditions too?
5 years ago
Thanks for the great replies. There are few concerns about this technique I hope you can help me address:

1) I understand why there are alternating layers of urea, in order to provide the pile a suitable C:N ratio to aid decomposition. However, at the layers where urea is situated, temperatures there will be high too I suppose. It could possibly reach 60 degree celcius when thermophillic stage takes over. Now, wouldn't this high temp kill off all the fungi spores at the layers close below, of if not, will retard their growth, as I understand the species of white rot fungi are usually a mesophillic species, although I'm not too sure about this?

2) By scattering the fungi spawn onto the waste material in alternating layers without sterilizing the coir waste, wouldn't this lead to high possibility of contamination of the spores, disabling its growth? As I know people who grow mushrooms, their first steps are always to sterilize the substrate. (sterilizing my substrate is not an option however, simply as there too much volume of it)

I made a small experimental compost pile, and added the spawn halfway through the composting process (not at the start, as illustrated in the indian coir composting method highlighted above). When I open up the pile a week later, I didn't really see much hyphae growth throughout. However, there might be few possibilities why things went wrong, i.e. I put the spawn only later during the composting process, or the spawn might not be a good quality spawn, or I keep turning the pile to check for growth every week or so, spores might be competing with composting bacteria, nitrogen might be depleted already, etc

I would like to try to make another experimental pile, but I would like some feedback from members of this forum before I try it again.
5 years ago
I have access to large amounts of sugarcane bagasse waste, which essentially consists of shredded bagasse fibres and pith. I am looking for a simple way to compost large amounts of carbon material that lacks nitrogen content, and most importantly, does not require constant mechanical turning. I came across this technique they use in India to compost coconut coir waste. Coconut coir or cocopeat, for those who are not familiar, in its original form is largely used as a potting soil amendment. It is very high in lignin (>30%) but some industries are composting coconut coir using this technique...

"The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore India and the Coir Board, have developed for converting the coir pith into compost by using a fungus call Pleurotus sajor caju and urea. For converting one tonne of coir pith into compost, 5 bottles of spawn culture and 5 kg of urea are required. The raw coir pith (100 kg) is spread uniformly over a hard floor of cement, stone, slab or brick in a layer of size 5×3 m with a thickness of 10 cm. Then 1 bottle (350 g.) of the fungus culture (spawn) is spread over the coir pith. Another layer of 100 kg coir pith is spread over it and add 1 kg urea over the second layer. This process is repeated by adding the fungus spawn and urea alternatively with 100 kg coir pith till heap reaches upto a height of one metre. Keep the heap as such with constant watering and cover with a thin layer of coir waste to conserve moisture. After 30 days of decomposition, coir pith turns into a black mass of compost with reduced lignin, cellulose, organic carbon and C:N ratio. The volume of material is also reduced by 40 percent. In order to ensure moisture retention and protection from heavy rainfall and wind adequate shelter need to be provided to the heap."

The fungus spawn they use is basically a white rot fungi, pleurotus sajor-caju, also known as grey oyster mushroom. Final C:N ratio reaches around 23:1

I have some questions:

1) Do you think this method really works?
2) If it might, can someone be able to explain to me what goes on during the whole composting process?
3) Can I adapt this technique for composting my bagasse waste?

I like the sound of this method as you leave it in a rectangular heap for a month or two without turning, at least not till the very end, and it turns to compost.
5 years ago