Why We Grow Industrial Hemp
Let's start off by giving the definition of Industrial Hemp. Hemp is the Cannabis plant. There are several common varieties, such as Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. The industrial component comes from when these plants are used for specific purposes. For Autumn Ridge, that purpose is to mass produce the protein Cannabidiol (CBD). Also important, hemp is not used for recreation, as it contains 0.3% or less Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Benefits of Growing the Hemp plant.
There are several reason for growing hemp, beneficial to the farm, other than a source of income. It is a great addition for crop rotation. By breaking up the normal cycle or crops you can vary the pests and weeds that grow in the field. If a particular weed or pest is giving you a problem, change its environment and let the weeds and pests solve the problem. Hemp out competes most weeds because it can be planted densely and develops a canopy quite quickly.
Sunn Hemp is a legume, and industrial hemp does have a mycorrhyizal inoculant. Having a plant produce their own nitrogen, which reduces your input costs, which reduces the production of petroleum based fertilizers, which are then not shipped around the country, and all this together means a better farm for you and lower carbon emissions for the rest of the planet. And were just scratching the surface.
Hemp also is a better at carbon sequestration than other plants, since it produces so many fibers. This is important because the crop residue degrades and puts that carbon back into the soil.
Many uses for Hemp
Other purposes include seed production for feed stock; fiber, for textiles, rope, hay, and paper. There are a few other newer products such as bioplastics, insulation, and biofuels. Finally, it can be used for making some construction materials, like hemp-crete. For Autumn Ridge, we grow non-femmenized seed to roast and sell at the Farmers Market. Which highlights the great protein content of the hemp seeds, and its wonderful taste when roasted. One of the things I would like to see in the future is more paper, rope, and other textiles made out of hemp. Having a resource, other than trees for those products makes a little more sense when it can be harvested yearly, and not removing a 20 year old forest for paper. There are many more uses for hemp, which I would love to get in to, but that's for another day.