Many times when I see growing operations I got questions on how to get improvements and many times it always comes back to the way the room is filled. When at filling there is not enough knowledge or attention to details it will affect the rest of the growing cycle. Lets highlight some of those details.
The amount of caccing is very important to get an even growth of the mycelium into all the room but is not so easy as it sounds. Only when the compost layer comes perfectly even out of the head filling machine before the casing falls on top it is possible to get the job done with the first spinner on the machine, the spinner that is used to get caccing in the casing and spread the casing evenly. In many occasions I don’t see the even compost layer and therefore we have to go back to the other side of the machine to see what is causing the problem. It can be an uneven supply of the compost, the swivel belt timing or not enough and uneven compression. Makes sure to solve that before setting the caccing depth. Also, make sure to get an even amount of supply into the casing hopper, if not too much casing will get pushed through on moments cause more casing on those spots, so an uneven caccing there. Depending on the structure of the casing and the desired structure you can adjust the speed of the spinner to get the right result.
After the first spinner there is the next spinner with the purpose of leveling the casing. Depending on the structure of the casing adjust the speed again and make sure to set the spinner not too deep. When that spinner goes to deep and there will built up more casing behind the spinner what will happen is that it will throw casing over the spinner causing an uneven casing layer. The casing layer should have the right and even level required after the spinner before it goes under the press at the end.
Use the press for the final touch, press the casing slightly at the end of the machine, just enough to push down the last loose casing on the top but not so much that it causes anaerobic spots on top. If the level is not good enough with the 2nd spinner, the press will press too much casing and just causing anaerobic spots of casing on top of the beds where no mycelium will grow in. Minimize that as much as possible.
Setting the machine in the morning is very important. I would always start the machine on the 2nd shelf, set it up as required and try not to change too much during the rest of the room. The most critical in that is to set the right compost height in the morning to avoid too many changes. Of course we always need to adjust if necessary but make sure then to minimize the changes and if you have to adjust, adjust all the settings. A change of compost height might change the compost press, height of the spinners and casing press roll. In practice that gets forgotten and causing a different fill after the compost height is changed.
A good filling is a head start of every growing room. I just highlighted a few details that need attention but there are many more of course. It’s not so easy to get the room filled exactly as required but good training and of course good equipment will get the job done and make the rest of the cycle easier to get the maximum result.
Erik de Groot