Carbon benefits in growing hemp

Canterbury farmers are showing an interest of growing hemp. PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY THE BROTHERS GREEN...
Canterbury farmers are showing an interest of growing hemp. PHOTO: SUPPLIED BY THE BROTHERS GREEN
Growing hemp could help Canterbury farms become carbon-neutral, says Brad Lake, a co-founder of South Island hemp producer, The Brothers Green.

Research indicated dairy farmers who converted 10% of their farm into hemp could reduce carbon emissions by at least 50%, he said.

"So, if you converted 20% of your farm, you could effectively become carbon-neutral and what does that do for our brand and getting the public on board?

"If you are looking for alternatives to milking cows this is one option and we have plenty of farmers who are keen.

"We should be able to claim carbon credits for hemp, because it has a phenomenal ability to capture and store carbon."

The Brothers Green’s ‘‘brother of operations’’, Aaron Franks, sells hemp products at the...
The Brothers Green’s ‘‘brother of operations’’, Aaron Franks, sells hemp products at the Christchurch Farmers’ Market. PHOTO: DAVID HILL

Hemp was good for the soil and it created a diversity of products for farmers and an additional income source, Mr Lake said.

Being a deep-rooted plant, hemp could access minerals in the soil which other plants could not reach, making it a highly regenerative crop.

Canterbury was the best place to grow hemp as "we are just so blessed with water and irrigation" and there was support for the fledgling industry at Canterbury and Lincoln universities, he said.

"We are working with the universities to get some hard data and credible numbers for farmers to make those decisions, particularly for dairy farmers, as it's a lot to change over your system and there is lot of risk.

"The returns are good at the moment, but we really want to grow organically, so we are only growing to meet the demand we can forecast ourselves."

Mr Lake could not think of any other plant "that could create so many opportunities" as hemp, anything from food, fibre, oil, medication and even a natural alternative to plastic and there was a growing export market.

"We are even looking at hemp-based 3-D filament to 3-D print plastic objects. The technology is there and there's just so much potential."

Last year 100ha of dairy farm land near Culverden was converted to hemp, and Mid-Canterbury companies Carrfields and Midlands were both growing more than 500ha.

"I would love to double it. It really is a moving target as we are not short of farmers who want to grow hemp.

"Ngai Tahu is growing hemp for us at Balmoral (Culverden) and is looking to grow more because they can see the social aspect of it, as well.

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