Hemp is quite possibly the most sustainable crop we can grow. There are many reasons why. It’s good for the soil, good for the air, it’s good for our health and hemp clothes us as well. Hemp also has an important sustainability role in our modern lives by replacing plastic with biodegradable solutions. Hemp surrounds itself with innovation and businesses worldwide are looking towards hemp to lead them into a more sustainable future.
It Starts with the Soil
The hemp species grown on farms is Cannabis Sativa, and the varieties grown for food and fibre have low THC. Cannabis Sativa is extremely fast growing, sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere than most other crops. Carbon is returned to the soil when leaves naturally fall off before harvest and are ploughed into the soil. The large root system on the hemp plant also breaks down, aerating the soil. This helps to sustain a healthy soil environment for microbes and earthworms. This in turn improves water retention, and the process develops into a continuous cycle of soil improvement and productivity.
Using the Whole Hemp Plant
A sustainability concept driving the hemp industry forward worldwide is “all of plant use”. This means zero waste. Hemp seeds used for food, stems for fibre and construction materials, and the leaves used for medicine. Hemp farmers can earn two incomes by first harvesting the seed, then baling the hemp stems for processing separately. In Australia there is a major move towards hemp fibre use, with processing plants popping up turning stems into mulch, hemp blocks for housing and animal bedding. Hemp stock feed, plastics, fibreboard and substitute timber beams complete the circle. This saves our resources with more renewable alternatives.
Lush and green hemp crops produce huge amounts of biomass quickly and use lots of carbon to grow. As the carbon economy develops, farmers could earn carbon credits for growing certain crops such as hemp. The difficult part about carbon credits in farming is measuring how much carbon is being sequestered. Do we measure the soil carbon before and after the crop? Or, can carbon sequestration be estimated based on the hemp crop’s yield? Over time a system will develop, and we hope the economy will move towards more sustainable practices. Hemp will become a more attractive crop for farmers to grow, and more innovation and investment around hemp products will begin and flourish.
Doing our Bit.
At Good Country Hemp we aim for high environmental and ethical standards. We talk to our hemp farmers who partner with us and work to develop good farming practices. We know this will lead to better outcomes and profitability for our growers. Luckily, hemp grows really well in our region. Big improvements in crop yields have been made from our humble beginnings 4 years ago. Pesticide use will be eliminated through good agronomy and cooperation with experts. We’re currently negotiating to develop a local fibre processing plant to use the hemp stems. After seed harvest, hemp stubble will be baled and processed locally into useful raw materials for industry, construction and domestic products. The possibilities are enormous, and the environmental benefits definitely stack up.