Representatives of New Zealand's industrial hemp industry are encouraging farmers to move to growing hemp as a way to reduce their impact on the environment.
NZ Hemp Industry Association chair Richard Barge says the hemp industry offers a huge opportunity for New Zealand's agricultural sector through impressive cleansing properties that could help tackle polluted farmland and filter runoff going into the waterways.
“For years now the government has been pushing for farmers to publicly address their sustainability - from the pollution of waterways to their greenhouse gas emissions, Barge says.
"Hemp can help alleviate some of these issues, working to create a smaller environmental footprint.”
Barge says hemp has a natural ability to purify soil and draw toxins from the earth."It helps to clean and recondition the soil, requiring fewer pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, leading to an environmentally sustainable use of available farmland.
"It also helps reduce the pollution and environmental impact on our waterways created by the switch from other land uses, especially when used in crop rotation.
“Essentially, hemp can help to clean up the messes left behind by poor farming practices. In fact, it’s so effective in cleaning up our messes it was actually used around Chernobyl to help draw out heavy metals from the soil.”
Billion dollar industry
Industrial hemp is increasingly being used for food, fibre, housing materials and health products. Barge says farmers could use hemp as an alternative land use and rotation crop to put their farmland to good use and invest in New Zealand's next billion-dollar industry.
He says hemp offers farmers an alternative to land use and rotation crop to put their farmland to good use and invest in New Zealand’s next billion-dollar industry.
“We’re seeing hemp pop up everywhere - as a cover crop for vineyards, through to a way to diversify revenue streams for multi-generational dairy farmers.”
“Once grown, hemp can be made into one of 25,000 usable products - from food, medicine, and animal feed, to clothing and hemp concrete,” Barg says.
“Hemp can be grown almost anywhere in any climate - from the deep south to the far north. It is an incredibly strong, fast-growing crop with so much potential.
"Not only is it naturally resistant to pests and weeds, it’s also carbon negative and absorbs approximately four times more carbon dioxide than trees."
For more information, contact the association or attend the iHemp Summit & Expo 2021 in Rotorua on May 20-22.