Department to take NI growers on European mushroom tour

Northern Ireland mushroom growers have the opportunity to take part in a department-funded innovation tour of single layer production technology in Europe.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering growers the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands and Belgium to learn about innovative management practices in mushroom production.

A particular focus of the study tour will be on moving Dutch shelving technology, which facilitates easier harvesting of mushrooms.

This study tour is part of the Farm Innovation Visits Scheme which is being delivered by DAERA’s College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE).

The tour will include visits to several progressive mushroom farms to see new growing and harvesting technologies.

The farm visits are being coordinated with the assistance of Brendan Burns, Sylvan International who is familiar with mushroom growing protocols on Northern Ireland farms.

Participants will see a range of Dutch shelving options in operation across the farms visited with the aim of increasing harvesting efficiency.

Seeing advanced management practices and hearing directly from growers in the Netherlands and Belgium will help participants reflect on their own practices and consider the opportunities to improve the performance of their mushroom harvesters and the long term performance of their mushroom business.

The group will leave from Dublin Airport on April 14 and will return on April 16 and will be led by CAFRE advisers Kieran Lavelle and Konstantinos Xyntaris.

Six places are available and will be awarded on a competitive basis.

Applications are invited from one member or employee of a farm business who is 18 years old on the application closing date and not in full-time education.

To increase the benefits arising from the study tour, all applicants must identify a group of farmers to share their findings with upon their return.

The Farm Innovation Visit scheme, which is part of the NI Rural Development Programme and part-funded by the EU, will cover the costs associated with setting up the visit, accommodation, travel outside of Northern Ireland, breakfast, lunch and evening meals when in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Participants will be expected to meet any additional costs including farm relief and travel insurance.

Mushroom growers growing on Dutch shelving who are interested in participating can find out more details and complete an application on the DAERA website.

Applications will open on Tuesday, March 12 and will close on Wednesday, March 20 at 4:00pm.