Mr. Alfred Barasa demostrating how mist blower machine operates during a farmers training event at JKUAT. Photo: Zablon Oyugi.
Kenyan mushroom farmers can now control humidity within their production units using humidifier or mist blower, a locally modified machine that balances the production condition of the fungi further preventing bacterial blotch, a mushroom deadly disease that attacks the whole produce making it unmarketable.
According to Mr. Alfred Barasa, Mushroom Production Technician and Trainer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where the machine is modified, growers have been opening the doors and windows to the growing units to let in air to dry the mushrooms, a method which has not been effective.
“Opening the doors and windows would mean that the farmers have to guard the production houses to prevent any damage. This may be time consuming depending on the weather,” said Barasa.
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How it works
Mist blower which operates with electric power of 220-240v is made of a motor of 0.75 horse-power. The motor, once the power is on and machine connected to a constant water supply from a horse pipe it rotates at a high speed a disc fitted at the rear part of the machine.
This causes the water which is let in to break up into droplets forming a mist in the production unit raising its relative humidity to 80-95 per cent, the ideal condition during reproduction or fruiting of mushrooms.
Once this condition is attained, it is advisable to dry the surfaces of the mushrooms to clear the water droplets which if left for a long time causes bacterial blotch.
“This is where most farmers get it wrong. After watering the crops, they leave the droplets on the surfaces of mushrooms especially on the caps to dry naturally something that may take longer than and expected and eventually resulting to brown spots,” said Barasa.
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The same machine can also help to dry the mushrooms’ surfaces. This is done by disconnecting the water pipe to cut the supply. With the source of power still in place, the motor rotates a fan which is just behind the motor.
This causes the disc to rotate again at high speed drying the surfaces of mushrooms to prevent bacterial blotch that causes spots on the caps making the produce unsalable.
Mushroom humidifier machine. Photo: Zablon Oyugi.
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The machine can be used in a 10x20x40 production house and it costs Sh150,000 or more if imported and even less if manufactured locally.
“A larger unit will require two machines of the same capacity for an effective job. However, a farmer can water one side of the room before moving to the remaining side if only one machine is available to service a bigger unit.”
Barasa can be reached on +254 724 723 537