The University of Guelph, in a July 8, 2008 study, concluded that using worm castings as a partial substitute for peatmoss in mushroom production resulted in 20 percent more mushrooms grown per square meter.
The university's study was financially supported by Forterra Environmental Corp. (TSX-V: FTE-V), an emerging leader in the production and sale of premium organic soil-enrichment products based on worm castings. The study also found that using worm castings as a top dressing with peat moss can result in a five percent increase in yield (weight of the mushrooms). A tradeoff can be made, however, between the number of mushrooms grown per square meter and yield. Subject to how the growing is managed, including the frequency of pickings, yield could be further improved by capitalizing on this increase in mushroom numbers.
The university's report also said that, "The data suggest the worm castings may enable the mushrooms to remain on the growing shelf longer providing a better opportunity for staggered harvesting" and also that the "data empirically, suggest that solids may increase as a function of an increase in the amount of worm castings in the casing up to 30 percent."
Mushrooms are a significant vegetable crop in Canada and the United States. In 2006, Ontario mushroom farmers produced 61 percent of the mushrooms grown in Canada or 118 million pounds with a farm-gate value of $172 million.
"This study by the University of Guelph's agricultural experts is further third-party confirmation of the value of worm castings as an enrichment product to produce higher agricultural yields. It should further our marketing of Forterra's products to the mushroom-growing industry and should be of interest to other agricultural sectors," said Rick Denyes, Forterra's President and Chief Operating Officer. "As we continue to ramp up our production levels of solid and liquid worm castings products, we also are increasing our marketing and sales efforts."