What Makes Hemp Sustainable?
The common consensus is that we have all but destroyed our environment…
Would you think we’re crazy if we told you hemp could help?
There are many bold claims about how hemp could save the planet. Here, we look at whether these little quirks can have a real, measurable impact on the environment?
Hemp has Low Pesticide Requirements
First and foremost, hemp helps the soil. It has shown to be naturally repellent to a range of threats that most commercial crops are vulnerable to. These threats encourage the use of pesticides to reduce the likelihood of losing crops to, well… pests. They are generally applied on seeds or sprayed on a newly sprouted crop.
When pesticides are used, they can harm the ecosystem in many ways. Not only do these chemicals ward off ‘pests’, but also risk killing many other organisms in the soil that have important roles in agriculture. Over time, pesticide contamination causes the quality of the soil to degrade.
Humans exposed to these chemicals have even developed health complications.
In a nutshell, hemp doesn’t demand as much chemical attention as other crops as it has extremely low pesticide requirements. Therefore, growing hemp helps reduce contamination from crop runoff.
But how could it actively heal the earth? Bear with us on this one, it could be a bit to take in.
Hemp Cleans The Soil and Air
So we saved the soil a bit of grief by making the choice to grow hemp, but the damage has already been done. Poor decision making has led to contaminated land, and the damage is irreversible – Or is it?
Believe it or not, hemp helps solve problems caused by many reckless choices we make. Fortunately, cleaning contaminated soil is one of them. It’s a process called phytoremediation, which occurs when plants draw waste through their roots – like food. Once the plant is fully grown, it may be harvested and disposed of. Phytoremediation means hemp can absorb materials such as:
Fun fact: They actually tried using hemp to help ‘clean up’ after the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl!
That’s not all though, as hemp also helps with pollution in the atmosphere.
The carbon requirements of hemp are so high that it acts as a carbon collector. It can absorb anywhere from 10-22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare and can harvest two times a year. In perspective, for every football field dedicated to growing hemp, it can absorb a years’ worth of carbon emissions for 4 passenger cars! (Based on an average 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emmitted per car/year)
Hemp Improves Soil Fertility
Due to the minimal pesticide requirements of hemp, it leaves the soil nutrient-rich after harvest. There have been recorded increases in yields for cycled crops when hemp is added into the rotation.
This study shows an increase of 10-20% in wheat yields after farmers added hemp into their mix. This means that farmers who choose to try hemp might just find the rest of their operation benefits. Of course, this should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Really, it’s a win/win across the board.
…But the benefits don’t end with improved harvests and soil quality.
Hemp Water Use (Vs. Cotton)
Hemp farmers will use less resources than they would with other crops – such as cotton. A study comparing the amount of water needed to grow hemp compared to cotton found that hemp used less than ⅓ of the amount of water to produce 1kg of usable fibre. This is a great comparison to make because hemp can be used to make anything that cotton can.
Are you starting to see how cannabis is one of the greatest agricultural gifts that nature gave us?
In this article we had a look at features of the cannabis plant that can assist in sustainable and regenerative practises. From seed to harvest, hemp provides clear, viable benefits for the environment.
Keep one last thing in mind: This is just how hemp helps the earth while it’s being grown.
Beyond that, the products hemp can make once harvested are the next biggest contributors to helping our planet – and us! You can read more about other hemp products that can be made here
Now in regards to how hemp helps the environment…
Do you believe us now?