Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Hemp trials: fibre & seed, man

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For a second, I thought I had stumbled into the mellow haze of Woodstock, but this pungent aroma had no buzz or medicinal properties. It was all about fibre and the seed.

Western Murray Land Improvement Group’s 7-hectare flood irrigation trial had over 70 attendees from as far away as Queensland. Five varieties were included in the trial to see what grows best in our region.

Hemp trials group
Photo: The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

Leigh Fletcher from Western Murray Land Improvement Group said the day was extremely positive.

“Extremely positive overall, to get people there – and such a diverse range of people.”

The crowd was diverse with builders, farmers, future processors, industry pioneers and agronomists.

“It was great that people got to get out and have a look and walk around,” said Mr Fletcher.

John Muir of Hemp Farming Systems Australia is the agronomist for Australia-wide hemp trials. John is very familiar with our region, he was a district agronomist at Hay for many years, also pioneering work on beds in flood irrigation layouts.

“Anything on flood that’s got any variation in the paddock, it’s got to be on beds.

“You can see it here from beautiful to dead, that’s all about the soil and the water, and the water logging.

“Everyone says it doesn’t need fertiliser, doesn’t need water, it doesn’t need insect control. That’s crap, you’ve got to look at it like any crop. You’ve got to look after it well.”

Hemp trials plot
Photo: The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

John hopes the ability for hemp to be dual-purpose will give growers options.

“Big, tall crops that will grow grain and biomass, and you know you get a double whammy. It’s a less risk if you do a dual-purpose cross. You have a bet each way.” 

Hemp’s flexibility for building material, insulation, ropes and canvas has this ancient fibre sitting in a prime position as consumers look for more eco-friendly options.

“It’s the strongest, lightest, natural fibre in the world. Termite-proof, fire-proof and the best insulation you can find.

“I’ve got three hemp little cabins, I don’t have air conditioning, just a fan.”

Could hemp be Australia’s golden opportunity for locally grown, sustainably produced, environmentally friendly building materials? 

You can find out more at the next Western Murray Land improvement field day March 29, 2022.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 17 February 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 17 February 2022.

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