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Mushroom Industry funds innovative research with AFBI
Two leaders in the mushroom Industry in Ireland - Monaghan Mushrooms Ltd and McDon Mushroom Casing – are collaborating in a cross-border initiative to fund innovative research and development with the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) at Loughgall to ensure a sustainable and competitive all-island mushroom sector.
Investment in Innovative Research & Development is universally recognised as a key component in achieving economic recovery post-recession.  This principle is particularly true in the Agri-food industries in Ireland, where the importance of the food sector is forecast to strengthen as it meets looming world challenges of food security, sustainability and the effects of climate change.
The recent signing of a new cross border R&D contract between the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and two commercial partners in the Mushroom Industry in Ireland is welcome testament to this. By investing in R&D in this way, Monaghan Mushrooms and McDon Mushroom Casing have clearly demonstrated their commitment to the future progress of a sustainable and competitive all-island mushroom sector.

This Industry AFBI collaboration will ensure effective knowledge transfer to front line mushroom producers
This innovative project is aimed at maximising the efficient utilisation of raw materials for optimised mushroom production. Specifically, objectives will look at developing a knowledge-based production system by monitoring changes in the key quality parameters of the substrates (compost and casing) from raw materials to final products. Rapid instrumentation techniques such as thermogravimetry (TG) and near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) will be used to evaluate the materials alongside more traditional analytical methods. Concurrently, a protocol for optimising mushroom production will be developed using “tailored”, quality assured casing formulations.  
According to Mairead Kilpatrick, AFBI project manager at Loughgall “This type of Industry-Science collaboration is the most effective way forward for all. It guarantees the application of innovative analytical technologies in a practical commercial forum and ensures the fastest possible technology and knowledge transfer to Industry. Further, this “whole process” production technology partnership, involving composting and casing manufacturers, will benefit the mushroom producer with more uniquely “tailored” substrates than were previously available”.
John Collier, Group Research and Development manager for Monaghan Mushrooms supports this view, saying “We have always believed that an investment in Research & Development will shape our future. This is why we have established a world-class R&D centre. With ever increasing pressure on the mushroom Industry, the importance of innovative R&D can not be underestimated and this new contract agreement with AFBI at Loughgall will ensure the mushroom Industry is well placed to meet future challenges in production”.
Jim McCourt at McDon Mushroom Casing reiterates these sentiments “McDon prides itself in working closely with our customers to ensure that the best quality casing is available, to provide the grower with the highest yields and mushroom quality possible. We are confident that this collaboration with AFBI will further strengthen our ability to achieve this objective”.

Published: Tue 03 Aug 2010