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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Mushrooms and invertebrates as future foods in circular food chains

Daniel Grimm1, Enno Sonntag2

1Thuenen Institute of Organic Farming, Landlessfood, Germany
2Thuenen institute of organic farming, Landlessfood-green


To feed the world with agroecological farming approaches, we cannot rely on the simplistic "plants and animals" model that dominates agricultural ecosystems today. Instead we must include a wider range of organisms, especially microorganisms, in our food chains, to make agro-ecosystems more like natural ecosystems. This would enable modes of nutrient recycling that can largely replace the use of industrially produced mineral fertilisers. Also, a reduction of crop yields, that could result from a reduction of fertiliser and pesticide use can be compensated with landless food production with fungi, algae or invertebrates.
Edible mushrooms are among the most promising organisms to diversify and improve our agricultural ecosystems. They can be cultivated on straw, wood or dung and have a protein content similar to meat or fish. This could help reduce the need for animal protein and reduce the amount of plant-based food used as feed, thereby improving global food security.
In addition to this, spent mushroom substrates can be used as feed for invertebrates, such as earthworms, which in turn produce compost for crop fertilisation and can themselves be used as food or feed.
Here we present first results from our experiments, in which the nutrient flows from plants to mushrooms to earthworms and back to plants, as well as the respective food yields at each step are measured. We also give an estimation of the climate impact of this production pathway and possible effects on soil fertility. In addition we give an overview over the theoretical and practical aspects of this circular agricultural model.

Keywords: Agroecology, circular agriculture, edible mushrooms, landless food production, vermicomposting

Contact Address: Daniel Grimm, Thuenen Institute of Organic Farming, Landlessfood, Trenthorst 32, 23847 Westerau, Germany, e-mail: daniel.grimm@thuenen.de

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