“The aim is to ensure the automatic operation of mushroom growing sites, so the characteristics of the growing environment can be monitored and modified remotely,” says Zsolt. “Devices must operate continuously and reliably in a humid environment without user intervention.” Remote management without smart controller devices such as relays and timers is impossible. “These operations should be user-friendly, with no programming knowledge required.”
Zsolt wanted a small, low-power, Linux-based single-board computer. He chose Raspberry Pi for his mushroom farm on the recommendation of a technical vocational high school teacher who’d used them and said he wouldn’t be disappointed. Zsolt now uses Raspberry Pi 3B+ in all his projects, all of which he self-designs, making use of standard items such as display, relay boards, and third-party libraries. The hardware cost no more than 40,000 Hungarian forints (approximately $110, or £90). “The hardest part of building a device is making the box and making the front panel. It required a closed box. I bought this, but it was hard to find a company that deals with Plexiglas cutting and printing,” Zsolt explains.
Mushroom for growth
The mushroom monitoring system consists of a TTL-level input in which temperature and humidity are measured. The remotely accessible system shows the status of the lights, fans, humidifier, and watering system – including the pressure, and whether or not the tent door is open. “Measurement, timing, and electrical equipment control is done by a Python-language program that runs as a service in the background,” Zsolt tells us. The program requires an internet connection and access to data from OpenWeatherMap.org.
The MM5D setup (one of several he’s developed and implemented at the family farm), uses Raspberry Pi 3B+ and has been in continuous use since 2019. “The devices were built one after the other, so I was able to use the experience gained in building for the next device.” This iterative process is reflected in Zsolt’s meticulous GitHub where he makes the installer software for his MM5D plant‑monitoring devices available online. He also maintains his own Debian repository for Raspberry Pi OS, Debian, and Ubuntu Linux.
Grow more greens
Growing mushrooms this way has proved successful enough for Judit and Zsolt to operate a local delivery service for customers in the vicinity of their farm in Tiszaföldvár, close to Budapest. Their mushrooms, as well as oyster mushroom compost useful for growing other crops, are sold in environmentally friendly packaging.
They’ve also expanded with additional mushroom fruiting chambers, as well as diversifying into other crops. The addition of these vegetable plots has also given Zsolt the excuse to come up with another monitoring project adding automated irrigation to the whole site, as well as the mushroom tents. “The water and electrical system, electrical cabinet, and pump shaft will be ready by the summer. Tomatoes, eggplants, and pumpkins will grow and the environment will be beautiful."