A lot of farms around the globe are using imported casing soil from Europe. A good, heavy casing soil with a good water holding capacity will give many benefits and are making it worth the investment to import the casing from that far away instead of using other alternatives. However, it’s really important to prepare the casing soil the right way and get the casing on the growing beds the right way, without losing those benefits. Getting a good, consistent casing on the beds will give better yields and quality and let’s go through the process to see what is the best way to prepare and adjusting the casing soil would be.
All the big bags transported from Europe have the casing soil inside for some weeks. When stored at site you need to add that extra time. Not hard to understand that the wet, heavy casing soil will get anaerobic spots inside the big bags. Therefore, it would be beneficial to open up the bags a few days before you will use it to open it all up, get it aerated, and get rid of the anaerobic spots. Of course you need a good clean space to do that. Another big advantage of that is that you are able to mix all bags together which will give a much better consistent moisture in the casing. Although the casing companies are trying to get the same moisture in all big bags it’s hard to get that done perfectly all the way through and mixing them all up will improve that.
Not the ideal situation but if there is no clean space available you can unload the casing soil from the big bags directly into the machinery.
Mixing of the bags can be done with a bucket of a loader, a Bobcat or something similar. That way the structure will not get damaged much, just don’t push too hard when driving into the casing and drop it carefully and not too high. After the mixing with the casing lying on a floor you also have the possibility the get the required moisture in the casing up to the required level. Watering can be done on the top of the casing with a water hose but of course make sure to spread that evenly over the whole batch. After being on the floor for one day the water will have the time to get through all the layer of the casing soil and that will also get the PH level more even. Uneven PH levels will give uneven grow speeds of the mycelium.
The casing we use has to deal with different climate periods. Those changes will be occurring all year around and they will change the amount of water you need to adjust the casing with. It’s never a routine job to add water but, same as in the grow rooms, it needs attention and adjusting accordingly.
You can use a mixing machine as well to add water and get it all mixed well, just ensure you don’t break the structure of the casing too much and don’t use augers to mix it. Augers will damage the structure by compress the casing and press out all air between the clumps.
As you see there are a lot of things that can influence the quality of the imported casing. Just make sure to adjust to your current situation and try to get the best result out of it.
Erik de Groot