Horticulture - mushrooms and apples

Area of Expertise:

The work of the laboratory unit at AFBI Loughgall is extremely diverse ranging from routine analysis of leaf, fruit, waste water and compost samples. AFBI Loughgall also run an apple scab disease warning service in conjunction with the top fruit development adviser in the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

Services available

Mushrooms and composting

Composting analysis

The mushroom industry is dependent on its main raw materials of high quality mushroom compost and casing.  In order to ensure consistent production and management of these products, sound analytical and technical advice is essential.

The laboratory at AFBI Loughgall provides a specialist analytical and diagnostic service to the mushroom industry.

Service provided:

Analysis of mushroom compost for pH, dry matter, moisture, nitrogen, ammonia, ash - carbon nitrogen ratio and examination of the compost for pests (eelworm, fly larvae).  The above analysis can be used to formulate recipes and estimate compost quality; results can be compared against well-established guidelines.

Waste management is an ever increasing problem.  Composting of a range of organic waste materials to produce a useable end product is an alternative to disposal in landfill.  Analysis of raw materials, formulation of composting recipes and analysis during composting and at the completion of the process is available to assist in the alternative use of organic wastes.

Mushroom problem identification

Service provided:

AFBI Loughgall staff have considerable experience in the diagnosis of mushroom pests, diseases and environmental disorders.

Where growers experience problems with mushroom growth or experience loss in yield, we will try to diagnose the problem and, where appropriate, make control recommendations.

Peat/casing analysis

Service provided:

Analysis of casing peat for pH measurement, life test and air filled porosity – estimated absorption capacity.


Apple leaf and fruit analysis

The long-term storage of Bramley apple is dependent on a product with the correct balance of minerals and trace elements in the fruit.  Multi element leaf and fruit analyses are offered to the top fruit Industry to assist in crop management and storage decisions.

Service provided:

Analyses of leaf and fruit for nitrogen, calcium, potassium and magnesium and a range of trace elements on request.  Results will be presented in comparison to well established standards to allow orchard management and fruit storage decisions to be made.

Other information


Sampling procedures

Compost sampling

  • 50 samples at random throughout a load.
  • 2 handfuls of compost per sample.
  • Total sample 6-10 kg placed in large clean polythene bag properly sealed and labeled.
  • Samples should be delivered for analysis within 72 hours of receiving a batch of compost.
  • Avoid contaminating samples.

Casing sampling

A sample of fresh casing should consist of a minimum of 5 litres of material. This should be composed of at least 40 subsamples taken at random throughout the stack.  Casing samples taken from growing tunnels should consist of a sample at least 1 litre.  This sample should be composed of at least 40 subsamples taken at random throughout the tunnel.  It is important to pay particular attention to hygiene when taking the sample to avoid contamination.

Leaf and fruit sampling

Details on the correct timing and procedures for leaf and fruit analysis can be obtained by contacting the laboratory unit at AFBI Loughgall.  Samples can be taken directly to AFBI Loughgall (Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. – 4.00 p.m.).

Service costs for 2020/2021

Price on application

For further information on any of these services, or if you have a specific requirement not listed here please contact the Horticulture analytical and diagnostic laboratory