AgriFutures Australia, Media Release, 21 December 2023
Tasmanian farmers have the opportunity to take a close-up look at the results of a three-year industrial hemp variety trial at a field day to be held in the Northern Midlands on Friday February 16.
Located 30minutes from Launceston on alluvial river flats and brown loam soils over clay, Fairfield is home to one of nine sites across the country that make up the AgriFutures Australia national Industrial Hemp Variety Trial (IHVT) program.
The research trial aims to provide growers with information about the performance of grain-only and dual-purpose (grain and fibre) varieties suited to specific geographic locations within Australia.
Tasmanian Hemp Association president, hemp fibre processor and field day organiser, Andi Lucas, said the results were relevant for those interested in becoming involved in the industry.
“Independent data is vital for industry growth and can be a great catalyst for further information sharing, collaboration and cooperation,” Ms Lucas said.
An experienced entrepreneur, Ms Lucas is a big believer in the potential of industrial hemp in Australia’s agricultural economy.
“Hemp is a renewable and sustainable source of food, fibre and fodder and is also a plant that sequesters carbon during the growth cycle,” she said.
“You can eat it, you can wear it and you can live in it, so it’s pretty incredible and the potential for growth in the hemp industry in Australia is virtually limitless,” she said.
Dr. Olivia Reynolds, Senior Manager of AgriFutures Australia’s Emerging Industries Program, highlights the field day as a key opportunity for farmers, processors, food retailers, and investors to delve deeper into the world of industrial hemp.
Dr Reynolds notes an optional agronomy session led by AgriFutures Industrial Hemp agronomist John Muir, aiming to provide essential insights for those considering venturing into industrial hemp cultivation. This session will provide valuable agronomic information important for success in the hemp industry.
More than 100 Tasmanian high school and university students are expected to visit the trial site as part of an education program to increase awareness around the career pathways the industrial hemp industry offers.
The final year of the IHVT program is evaluating the performance of a range of different varieties sourced from international suppliers including from Canada, France, Poland and from local Australian suppliers.
The full results are expected to be published in late 2024.
Following on from the IHVT program, AgriFutures Australia is funding a $2.5 million Industrial Hemp Program of Research to assist with the growth of the industry.
Cultivation of industrial hemp is regulated through state or territory government permits. Recognised for its minimal tetrahydrocannabinol content (THC), industrial hemp stands out for its rich protein and essential fatty acid content, contributing to a healthy nutritional profile. It is noteworthy that the legal landscape has allowed for the sale of industrial hemp seed for human consumption since 2017. The need for the IHVT was identified in the Australian Industrial Hemp Strategic RD&E Plan (2022-2027) developed by AgriFutures Australia, which sets out a clear pathway to grow the industry. The Plan has five major objectives covering seed and varieties; growing the crop; products produced from the crop; the sustainability of hemp; and the regulatory environment.
AgriFutures Australia Tasmanian IHVT Field Day will be held on Friday 16 February at Fairfield, Epping Forest, Northern Midlands, Tas. Registration is required for all attendees. The event includes a light lunch followed by an optional extra agronomy session with John Muir (RSVP required).