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Japanese Firm Harvests Shiitake Mushroom Grown Under Solar Panels

2017/12/08 19:57
Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
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The mushroom was named "Maruhachi Shiitake" and shipped. (source: Next Innovation)
The space under solar panels for growing shiitake mushroom (source: Next Innovation)
Bed logs for shiitake set up in the space for cultivation (source: Next Innovation)

Next Innovation (Tamano City, Okayama Prefecture) announced Nov 30, 2017, that it has started to harvest and sell log-grown shiitake mushroom grown in a solar-sharing business.

Next Innovation is a company that installs and manages solar power generation systems. The brand of the mushroom is "Maruhachi Shiitake."

In the cultivation of shiitake, an excessive amount of direct sunlight should be avoided. So, space under solar panels is relatively suited for the cultivation of shiitake, according to the company.

Forestland trees cut at the time of building a solar power plant in the fall of 2016 were used as bed logs. Shaded space was made by using aluminized shading nets between arrays of solar panels at a different solar power plant run by Next Innovation to grow shiitake mushroom. The aluminized shading net blocks 90% of sunlight by reflecting it, and the reflected light increased the amount of electricity generated at the plant by 10%, according to the company.

Next Innovation survived the summer season, which is harmful to shiitake fungi, by introducing its own automatic sprinkling system. In the other seasons, the temperature becomes slightly higher than ambient temperature due to the heat collecting effect of solar panels, which is beneficial to the growing environment of shiitake mushroom.

In Hachihama-cho District, Tamano City, Okayama Prefecture, "Maruhachi Pear" is widely grown as an original brand of Twenty Century Pear. So, the mushroom was named Maruhachi Shiitake after obtaining permission from a local pear producers' association.

The shiitake mushroom is harvested twice a year (spring and fall). Next Innovation sells fresh raw shiitake as cooking ingredient and gift, and it sells dried shiitake throughout the year. The company plans to secure about 1,500 bed logs in this winter.

Moreover, as part of its solar-sharing project, Next Innovation grew cucumber, Korean hot pepper, lemon cucumber, horned melon, etc on a trial basis and sold them in small quantities at local supermarkets, etc. The company aims to commercialize more products by making use of this year's experience, it said.