Hemp is also known as industrial hemp. Industrial hemp can play a crucial role in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Historically, hemp has been in cultivation for thousands of years and cultivation was going on uninterrupted till the 1930s when a stigma was attached to it. In the 1930s nylon and plastics were invented and their use spread rapidly. This was also the time when the use of marijuana was at its peak. Marijuana was banned and since hemp belonged to the same family of plants, it was banned too. The US was the primary proponent of the view that hemp had addictive properties too.
It is only of late that governments around the world have realised the value of hemp in reducing Carbon Dioxide. Many countries have now started issuing carbon credits to farmers growing the crop.
Hemp and carbon absorption
Scientific studies have shown that Industrial hemp can absorb more CO2 per hectare than any other forest or commercial crop. This makes it the perfect carbon sink. Additionally, due CO2 is perfectly bonded with fibre. This means that this fibre can produce anything from hemp textiles to building material. For example, the car company BMW uses hemp to replace plastics in its construction of the cars. Since hemp is not a fossil fuel, you can cultivate it again. It also meets the permanence criteria specified by the Kyoto Protocol.
Another long -held misconception about industrial hemp is that it is marijuana. Marijuana and industrial hemp are to completely different things. Industrial hemp is the soft fibre derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. It does not have any psychoactive properties unlike Cannabis.
Hemp is suitable for growth in Australia. It does not need nutrient rich soil. It needs very little water and no fertilisers. Hemp can be grown on existing agricultural land. It also does well as a rotation crop and has positive effects on the crops that follow it. This is in line with the Australian government’s plan to provide more employment and improve far-flung areas economically. Regions such as the Torres Strait Islander land will benefit from such a move.
A hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tons of CO2. Two crops can be grown every year so that absorption is doubled. Hemp grows up to 4 metres in 100 days. This makes it one of the fastest CO2 to biomass converters, far more efficient than agro-forestry.
Products derived from the cultivation of hemp can replace unsustainable products and materials. CO2 can be further diminished in the construction industry as hempcrete can lock up huge amounts of CO2 in itself. According to LimeTechnology Ltd, Hempcrete locks up around 110 kg of CO2 per m3 of wall. In contrast, standard concrete emits 200kg of CO2.
Industrial hemp cultivation is critical in the battle in reducing Carbon Dioxide, pollution, conserve our soil and quality of water. Carbon sequestration is a crucial function of industrial hemp. Carbon credits for hemp cultivation will make it attractive.
Cultivation of industrial hemp in every part of Australia will give the much needed ecological and economic boost that it.