When it comes to growing hemp some may argue that the environmental benefits are as plentiful as the health benefits.
Believe it or not, hemp isn’t just amazing for the body! It does far more than the average agricultural crop, hemp is also an extremely sustainable and environmentally friendly food source.
1. Hemp has more than 25,000 different uses.
Unlike almonds which are grown for food or cotton which is grown for fibre, every part of the hemp plant including its seeds, leaves, and stalk can be used for something. Not a single piece of this plant goes to waste! Most notably, hemp can be used for food, skincare, medicine, rope, clothing, building materials, biofuel, and plastic composites.
2. Easy to sustainably farm
Hemp is a short rotational crop and only takes 4 months to grow. In Australia, it has been known to grow in both the summer and winter months. Hemp food varieties can be easily integrated into Australia’s current cropping enterprises as it uses the same sowing and harvesting machinery as traditional canola, barley, and wheat crops. Hemp is also not climate-sensitive and can be grown with and without irrigation depending on location, making it extremely versatile. So far hemp has been grown in every state and territory in Australia, highlighting how adaptable it is to our country's varying climates.
3. Requires minimal water
In comparison to other plant-based crops such as soy and almonds, hemp uses far less water to grow. Don’t get me wrong, without adequate water a hemp crop will not achieve great yields but in comparison to other water-hungry crops that are farmed, hemp is on the lower end of the spectrum.
4. Nourishes our soil
Hemp plants have long taproots that help prevent erosion and clean the soil at the same time! They have been known to eliminate harmful man-made toxins from the soil and were famously used after a nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. The decomposing leaf matter that falls from the plant as it matures also is packed with nutrients that are returned to the soil, this can lead to richer yields in the following year.
5. Purifies the air
Growing hemp can remove more carbon from the air than trees. For every tonne of hemp produced, 1.63 tonnes of carbon is removed from the air! It acts as a natural purifier for the world, giving us cleaner air to breathe.
6. Can be grown without chemicals
Because hemp grows so quickly and forms a canopy shielding the sun from the soil beneath it, it gives weeds little chance to grow. This is one of a few reasons why hemp is easier to grow without using herbicides and pesticides. Although, currently in Australia, organic crops are still in the trial process as we have several insects that love hemp as much as we do and can cause damage. These trials should lead us to discovering natural methods around this.
It is incredible how much of a difference one small plant can make in the world. Together with our farmers, we are taking small steps towards a cleaner and greener environment for Australia!