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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 30 No. 3, p. 760-767
    Received: Mar 31, 2000

    * Corresponding author(s): ralph.noble@hri.ac.uk
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Olfactory Response to Mushroom Composting Emissions as a Function of Chemical Concentration

  1. R. Noble *a,
  2. P.J. Hobbsb,
  3. A. Dobrovin-Penningtona,
  4. T.H. Misselbrookb and
  5. A. Meada
  1. a Biometrics Dep., Horticulture Research International, Wellesbourne, Warwick, CV35 9EF, UK
    b Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research, North Wyke, Okehampton, Devon, EX20 2SB, UK


Odor pollution is a major problem facing mushroom [Agaricus bisporus (Lange) Imbach] compost production. Techniques for quantifying mushroom composting odors are needed to assess the effectiveness of odor control measures. Odor samples were obtained in nalophane bags from 11 mushroom composting sites. Samples were collected 0.2 m downwind from the pre-wetting heaps (aerated or unaerated) of raw composting ingredients (wheat straw, poultry and horse manures, and gypsum) and subsequent Phase I composting windrows or aerated tunnels. The odor concentrations (OCs) of the samples were assessed using serial dilution olfactometry and the chemical composition of the samples was determined using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS), both 24 h after sampling. Gas detector tubes were used for on-site measurement of gaseous compounds. Odorants that exceeded their published olfactory detection thresholds by the greatest order of magnitude, in decreasing order, were: H2S, dimethyl sulfide (DMS), butanoic acid, methanethiol, and trimethylamine. Concentrations of NH3 were not significantly correlated with OC, and they were not significantly affected by the use of aeration. Aeration reduced the OC and the combined H2S + DMS concentrations by 87 and 92%, respectively. There was a very close correlation (r = 0.948, P < 0.001) between the OC of bag samples and the combined H2S + DMS concentrations, measured on-site with detector tubes. This relationship was unaffected by the NH3 concentration or the type of compost: aerated or unaerated, pre-wet or Phase I, poultry manure–based or horse and poultry manure–based compost. Prediction of the OC will enable rapid and low-cost identification of odor sources on mushroom composting sites.

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Copyright © 2001. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.30:760–767.