In a partnership between Sunshine Sugar and biotechnology company Sustinent, mushroom grow bags using sugarcane biomass are currently being developed as a commercial product on-site at the Harwood sugar mill.
CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Mr Chris Connors said; “With gourmet mushrooms in demand across the world for their flavour, versatility and health benefits, we see this project as a great fit for our diversification program. By teaming up with the experts at Sustinent, we will be producing a world-class product by the end of the year.”
The leafy material that is left after the sugarcane is harvested is rich in carbon and energy, making it an excellent, low-cost growth medium for mushrooms. Much of this residual biomass in NSW is currently used for energy generation but it is also a rich source of material for the production of fuels, chemicals and other value-added products, including animal feed and bio-degradable packaging.
This is the first phase of a project aimed at utilising the cane trash in producing a diversified product range including nutritionally enhanced feedstock and packaging.
“Our team of scientific, industry and manufacturing experts have successfully cultivated edible gourmet mushrooms such as Oyster and Shiitake already, as well as medicinal mushrooms like Resihi and Turkey Tail”; says Sustinent Founder and CEO, Mr Peter Tomich.
The richness of the sugarcane biomass allows for multiple flushes of mushrooms to be harvested before the substrate is then recycled as livestock feed or a rich compost, thus creating a sustainable, circular economy. Developing products of both environmental and economic value is a fundamental goal shared by both the NSW sugar industry and Sustinent.
Ready-to-fruit gourmet Oyster Mushroom Grow Bags are expected to start flying off the production line towards the end of 2021.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 11 August 2021.