The world is catching on to the many uses of hemp. From clothing to fiberglass, this plant produces too many products to mention. But what we do want to be sure you know is this: the potential of hemp as Biomass is MASSIVE!
If you are unsure of what biomass means, here is an easy definition: Biomass is a plant based material that can be broken down into energy. This resource is also referred to as bio-energy. Various countries have already implemented bio-energy as the environmentally friendly fuel source of the future. The best news is, hemp has been legitimized for industrial crop growth.
Hemp was approved for cultivation in the 2018 farm bill. Because the crop can be ready for harvest (depending on the use) in as little as ten weeks and requires less water than other crops it is considered immensely sustainable. Furthermore, hemp can be grown in areas that remain uncultivated, hence adding to our farmer’s options instead of reducing them.
Initially, we thought corn and wheat would be our primary sources for bio-fuel. However, corn and wheat require particular growing circumstances and are also a large part of our food supply. Furthermore, corn and wheat are seasonal crops while hemp can be grown year round. As hemp can be grown year-round it is more easily sustainable as a bio-fuel.
But if all of our farmers switched to hemp we might not have enough to eat. No worries, there is an interesting solution. If those same farmers chose to grow hemp in their food crops off season they could in theory double their income.
Moreover, it would actually benefit their soil quality and they would fertilize less. Here’s why — hemp returns 70% of the nutrients it uses back to the soil. By allowing corn or wheat crops to continue to sustain our food needs, there would be no undue pressure on farmers to choose between crops.
Our primary energy sources have been fuel and coal for well over a hundred years. Besides depleting those natural resources and unsuccessfully avoiding the consequent hazards (think oil spills and black lung), we have created an enemy of the environment. The toxins produced to implement these energy sources have become public enemy number one.
Nevertheless, hemp is in the beginning stages for bio-fuel use. Both bio-diesel and ethanol can be produced using hemp. Ethanol from hemp is derived by fermentation. In contrast, biodiesel is produced by using hemp seeds. Those seeds are pressed and the oils extracted.
My favorite part of ‘hemp as biomass’ is yet another solution towards sustainability that it could offer our farmers. If these farmers chose to utilize their hemp crops to create their own bio-fuel, they could reduce their emissions immensely. Most farming equipment runs on diesel fuel. Bio-diesel fuel from hemp can be used in that machinery without any additional expense. How does that sound for beating the system of archaic fuels?
Hemp, the gift that keeps on giving!