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sorting through the mythology of hemp  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I think that plants generally should not be forbidden. Plants grow naturally. Cannabis is apparently a really potent herb, why can't you grow it? There is no reason, there are so many things to get high especially on prescription medications. Australia is one of the strictest countries to prohibit plants.
 
pollinator
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Yeah, I'm with you. I would like to be able to grow it as a garden plant. For a plant so useful to be illegal because a subset of strains are being used by a societal subset for intoxication? Ridiculous.

And now the Ontario government has said that it wants its own LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) to run a truly anemic number of pot shops, buying only from licensed commercial producers? Sounds like a government drug monopoly to me. Now we'll have two, except they will be, for all intents and purposes, controlling and profiting from the newest at every stage of the process, from seed to badly cured, probably ground-up, likely not too potent, overpriced bud.

And one of the worst parts will be that if they can't sell a better product at a lower price than the people already doing so, it will simply continue as a black market. My only hope is that it causes a shakeup politically and causes the new control system to be abandoned in favour of the illegal pot shops that have sprung up like mushrooms since Trudeau first got elected. I understand why they're doing it this way. They want control, and they want profit. But it's like making laws that you know won't be followed; it weakens the strength of law itself. They should, instead, have made moves to legitimise and legislate this new wave of enterpreneurs. Giving them legitimacy would enable laws to be made preventing them from the sorts of activities that the government wants prevented. The government could make more money by using the infrastructure private pot enterprise has already established, and at the same time lay down guidelines for best practices, health and safety.

And I haven't heard anything at all about relaxing the regulatory state of affairs as it pertains to raising hemp for any reason.

-CK
 
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I went to a hemp farm today to have a gander at the plants and growing conditions.

A sign at the field indicated that this was a zero THC test field of hemp with its license number. 

Each plant was about 7 to 8 feet tall on about 5-inch spacing in a large monocrop.

The majority of each stem's height was without leaves; which, in my limited knowledge of such things, should produce good clean long fiber (as there are very few branchings to form leaves off the sides of the majority of the stalk).  The stalks were about 5/8ths of a inch thick and looked like canes or reeds with a bright green color.

I haven't talked to the actual growers, but to the people on whose land it is grown.   I heard the crop is supposed to be for seed and not for fiber.

Leaves, hermaphrodite flowers, and seeds are mostly in the top two feet of most plants.  Any lower leaves are shaded out and die in the dense shade and fall off as the top of the plant grows to match its neighbor, chasing the sun.   The flower tops smelled ery mildly of the well know recreational plant. 

Very few other plants were growing in the field, as the dense, tall crop shaded out most competition.  The other plants that were growing amongst the hemp were small, or spindly in the low light. Despite rain last night and early today, the ground was not wet.  The hemp must be drinking it up.

I yanked one of the plants and was surprised by the small root system.  The root was about seven inches long, somewhat carrot-shaped about the same width as the stem and tapering, with root fibers off around its sides.  I was lead to believe that the plant would have a much more extensive root system, creating a huge amount of biomass in the soil--Clearly, not the case unless the micro root fibers are not apparent.  But it did grow 8 feet tall without fertilizer or irrigation, and could certainly be utilized to produce biomass...via stems... just not via root mass, as I had thought.  The stalk was hollow and was mostly strong woody type material.  The green fibrous outer stalk material (cambium) was incredibly strong. 

I hope that this update has been helpful to those who are curious about growing the plant for fiber.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Hi Roberto. Thanks for that.

I find it curious that the plants were being grown for seed, but spaced to encourage minimal branching, as one would for fibre. Growing for seed is much like growing for the medicinal flower, in that branching results in more flower, resulting in more seed.

I think hemp has a number of potentially incredible positive effects when introduced into a managed system, but perhaps alfalfa would be a better root mass accumulator. In fact, I wonder if they would do well together, the hemp planted to either fibre or seed specifications in block rows, with block rows of alfalfa grown in between.

I think the really incredible thing about hemp as a crop is what was mentioned about the biomass generated above the soil. Imagine how much of forestry management that is geared towards the pulping of trees for paper could instead be repurposed for keystone species restoration, especially beaver populations. All that would be needed is for hemp to be added in rotation to any of a number of compatible rotational crop systems.

Also, consider the cases of farm land ringing urban developments at risk of climate change-induced flooding events, and in proximity to floodplains. Consider hundreds of thirsty acres of hemp moderating all but the flashiest flood conditions.

Honestly, the tendency for hemp to crowd everything else out is a little bit of a concern for me in a field crop or pasture setting. I would love to formulate hemp guilds for specific land management practices, wherein specific goals unique to the project being considered can be attained, while encouraging a healthy, soil-building polyculture that could withstand the complete uprooting or animal grazing of the hemp elements.

I was thinking about the tendency of this "weed" to self-monocrop, shading everything else out, and I got to thinking about dangerous, literally noxious plants dangerous to humans and animals, like the invasive Giant Hogweed. I think dense plantings of industrial hemp might be used to overgrow these invaders.

I look forward to the day when hemp can be discussed without stigma of any kind for it's environmental benefits. I think deriving our paper from hemp instead of the boreal forest would do a lot to sequester carbon and free up the boreal forest for proper management. I think that if pulp trees had no monetary value, and that forest stewardship for profit needed to focus on timber trees, we would end up with much more diversity.

Incidentally, and I may have mentioned this before, there was an inventor out of Peterborough, Ontario, who designed and built a machine capable of pulping whole hemp plants to make paper pulp without the need for bleaches of any kind. I have had no success in finding him, or word of his invention. I will try to dig up his name, but if anyone knows who I am talking about, and what might have happened to this machine, it would be amazing for homescale paper production.

It wouldn't be a surprise to me if he'd been bought out or silenced by Big Paper. This is as disruptive a technology as could be imagined for primary industry.

-CK
 
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What you saw Roberto might well have been a crop grown for both seed and fiber. I have seen video of farms in europe where the tops of the hemp grown in the sort of conditions you are talking about are harvested to make a high protein animal feed while the bottoms are harvested for fiber.

I'll second Chris's thoughts too that the really exciting possibility for hemp is it's industrial applications. My understanding is that it can offer many of the benefits of fallowing a field while still providing a crop of biomass to make paper, bioplastics, fodder, building material (hempcrete), or medicine. From friends that have worked in and around the burgeoning hemp industry in Colorado it sounds like it is already providing a much needed infusion of reliable farm income to small farmers open to embracing this new old plant. So much so that some communities are seeing hemp acreage nearly double year to year as folks see neighboring farms go from scraping by to thriving in the blink of an agricultural eye. I've heard similar excitement from Vermont.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Chris Kott wrote:Hi Roberto. Thanks for that.

I find it curious that the plants were being grown for seed, but spaced to encourage minimal branching, as one would for fibre. Growing for seed is much like growing for the medicinal flower, in that branching results in more flower, resulting in more seed.

  Yes.  I should have made note of it myself.  I was thinking the same thing.  It looked like a fibre crop to me but I don't know much about it.

I think hemp has a number of potentially incredible positive effects when introduced into a managed system, but perhaps alfalfa would be a better root mass accumulator. In fact, I wonder if they would do well together, the hemp planted to either fibre or seed specifications in block rows, with block rows of alfalfa grown in between.

This sounds like it might work. 


I think the really incredible thing about hemp as a crop is what was mentioned about the biomass generated above the soil. Imagine how much of forestry management that is geared towards the pulping of trees for paper could instead be repurposed for keystone species restoration, especially beaver populations. All that would be needed is for hemp to be added in rotation to any of a number of compatible rotational crop systems.

  There are a lot of hemp advocates who are big into this idea.  This is probably the main 'planet saving' attribute of hemp.

Also, consider the cases of farm land ringing urban developments at risk of climate change-induced flooding events, and in proximity to floodplains. Consider hundreds of thirsty acres of hemp moderating all but the flashiest flood conditions.

Perhaps it would be best as an intercrop in an agriforest strip system for that effect, where the trees take the main force of the water, and hemp absorbs it.

Honestly, the tendency for hemp to crowd everything else out is a little bit of a concern for me in a field crop or pasture setting. I would love to formulate hemp guilds for specific land management practices, wherein specific goals unique to the project being considered can be attained, while encouraging a healthy, soil-building polyculture that could withstand the complete uprooting or animal grazing of the hemp elements.

Yes, there are myriad systems that could be developed utilizing this easy to grow plant.  I think that a similar system to one that Fukuoka established for his rice production could be utilized, but would obviously need tweaking.  I think Hemp might do well if planted directly in a crop of white clover, and might be followed by a crop of field peas.  The soil building potential is quite unique, particularly if seed is all that is sought by the farmer as an export/output.  One could also plant the monocrop of hemp and then once it is up to height unleash the cattle to mash it into the ground so that all that biomass goes into the soil or as heavy mulch.  This could set up the soil well for another crop.

I was thinking about the tendency of this "weed" to self-monocrop, shading everything else out, and I got to thinking about dangerous, literally noxious plants dangerous to humans and animals, like the invasive Giant Hogweed. I think dense plantings of industrial hemp might be used to overgrow these invaders.

Thats where my brain went to.  I have large areas of Canada thistle that are difficult to deal with.

I look forward to the day when hemp can be discussed without stigma of any kind for it's environmental benefits. I think deriving our paper from hemp instead of the boreal forest would do a lot to sequester carbon and free up the boreal forest for proper management. I think that if pulp trees had no monetary value, and that forest stewardship for profit needed to focus on timber trees, we would end up with much more diversity.

All it would take is a small change in political will to set in motion this change in direction of group-mind thinking.

Incidentally, and I may have mentioned this before, there was an inventor out of Peterborough, Ontario, who designed and built a machine capable of pulping whole hemp plants to make paper pulp without the need for bleaches of any kind. I have had no success in finding him, or word of his invention. I will try to dig up his name, but if anyone knows who I am talking about, and what might have happened to this machine, it would be amazing for homescale paper production.

That would be interesting to know about.

It wouldn't be a surprise to me if he'd been bought out or silenced by Big Paper. This is as disruptive a technology as could be imagined for primary industry.

Very disruptive indeed.  I would also not be surprised to learn of that, but hopefully that is not the case.

-CK
 
Roberto pokachinni
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HI Stephen Lowe:

My understanding is that it can offer many of the benefits of fallowing a field while still providing a crop of biomass to make paper, bioplastics, fodder, building material (hempcrete), or medicine. From friends that have worked in and around the burgeoning hemp industry in Colorado it sounds like it is already providing a much needed infusion of reliable farm income to small farmers open to embracing this new old plant. So much so that some communities are seeing hemp acreage nearly double year to year as folks see neighboring farms go from scraping by to thriving in the blink of an agricultural eye. I've heard similar excitement from Vermont.

   Any additional information that you can dig up on this would be of great benefit to this thread, as well as possibly to me as a prospective farmer.  I'm interested in how this crop is being processed and what is being done with it.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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I was actually thinking about tall-growing field crops in block rows on contour, or seeded throughout clearcut or burnt-over forest, where there is both risk of erosion and potential for the tall, densely growing annuals to act as a shrublike matrix to trap snow and hold onto it longer into the spring, decreasing the severity of the spring thaw by drawing it out, keeping the water where it landed longer and better recharging the aquifer.

This accords with the observations you made in the Firestorm: British Columbia thread, regarding shrub cover retaining snow into the spring over 7000% better than just tree cover alone, if I am remembering right.

These would end up being sacrificial crops, but I can't imagine the added biomass on the land would be bad to chop and drop.

-CK
 
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