Growing hemp contributes to the economy, sure—but it also significantly benefits the environment
The intrigue behind cannabidiol (CBD) products continues to drive popularity in the hemp farming industry. With the 2018 Farm Bill and the USDA’s establishment of a Hemp Production Program, the booming hemp market is coming to fruition.
High-quality, organically grown hemp provides several benefits to the economy and the environment—not to mention the local agricultural communities who grow it. Additionally, its reliable growth cycle provides a realistic solution to keep up with consumer demands and give back to the community. Below, we discuss five different benefits of locally grown hemp and why you should care, even if you’re not a farmer!
Hemp farming contributes to a booming new industry/economy
The benefits of growing hemp impact local states’ economies and job markets, especially those that depend on agriculture. Stemming from the legal marijuana industry, which employs over 200,000 employees as of 2018, the hemp industry continues to blossom and is expected to grow even larger. Studies indicate that the CBD market is expected to reach over $20 billion by 2024.
The other good news? Hemp isn’t going anywhere. The industry is intrinsically blessed with a plant that grows and regenerates very quickly, which enables cultivation to keep up with the demand for hemp extracts and CBD oils.
Hemp farming can benefit many different locally sourced products
You may often solely associate hemp with CBD and hemp oil, but it can actually contribute to many other great products. Clothing, for example, is a popular hemp product manufactured by many companies, including apparel-giant Patagonia®, Hempy’s, and others. Hemp clothing is more durable and more cost-efficient than traditional cotton clothing, as it displays up to ten times the strength and lasts longer through substantial wear and tear. Additionally, hemp plants have very few natural pests, and require minimal use of harmful pesticides, unlike other clothing materials, such as cotton, which demand significant pesticide usage during cultivation.
The fiber from hemp seeds is more and more commonly used to manufacture thin, durable, and bright sheets of a hemp paper. Paper made from hemp provides a more efficient growing solution than from trees, as one acre of hemp is capable of producing similar quantities of paper as four or more acres of trees. Hemp paper also gets the nod in terms of recycling, as it can be recycled and reused up to eight times, whereas tree-based paper hovers around three. Additionally, unlike conventional paper, hemp paper doesn’t require bleaching, which releases harmful toxins into the environment.
Growing hemp requires less water than comparable crops
We use water in more ways than you think, beyond our simple daily activities. Water is used to grow our food, manufacture most of our products, produce energy—the list goes on and on. Up to 45% of our water usage in this country goes toward thermoelectric power, and the other dominant portion is allocated to irrigation, at 32%. It’s important to remember that maintaining water resources at safe levels helps to protect human health and the environment.
With that in mind, hemp’s value becomes even more apparent, as it requires significantly less water than other comparable crops, like cotton, for example. Cotton can require up to 5,000 gallons of water to produce a little over two pounds of cotton, enough to make one simple outfit. On the other hand, it takes just 700 gallons of water to yield the same amount of hemp in adequate conditions. This creates the potential for farmers to spend considerably less money on irrigation, and increase profit margins.
Hemp offers significant soil improvement for other crops
Hemp provides several benefits for the surrounding soil and improves the production of nearby or replacement plants. The roots of hemp plants reach deep into the soil and hold it together, which reduces erosion and allows other, more fragile crops to grow afterward or in rotation. Hemp also enriches surrounding soil by producing a large quantity of a matter known as biomass, a plant material that decomposes and recirculates nutrients back into the soil. As a result, hemp is a great crop to grow in rotation with winter cereals, like rye, wheat, or barley.
Hemp plants pull large quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere
Hemp plants are rather sizeable and can reach up to 20 feet in height. It features abundant foliage with a broad seven-leaf pattern that increases in concentration toward the top of the stalks. Because of its physical properties, hemp pulls a large amount of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Each ton of hemp is estimated to absorb over 1.6 tons of carbon dioxide, substantially more than plants and trees of similar size and stature. For this reason, hemp is currently undergoing massive amounts of research in its ability to possibly mitigate the effects of global warming.
Recap: Growing hemp offers several economic and environmental benefits
Growing hemp provides a lot, and we mean a lot of advantages to both the economy and the environment. Some of the most notable benefits of the booming hemp farming industry include:
- A surge in new job opportunities
- Financial contributions to struggling areas
- Durable, longer-lasting clothing
- More efficient paper products
- Water conservation
- Soil enrichment for adjacent or rotating plants
- Reduction in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
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