Now we are not suggesting that you get your steel shed, tape up the windows with black plastic and install a hydroponics system. Perhaps some of the old farms in Australia could be revamped and revitalised with crops of Hemp for supply to manufacturers, which in turn, might result in increased sales of Farm Sheds, which we would consider, a good thing.
Despite the negative publicity of its drug related counterpart hemp (Cannabis Sativa actually a relative of Hops) is a highly valuable industrial plant for use in textiles and other fibre based industries. The world demand is growing yearly due to the ecological benefits of using hemp products and a broader market is emerging. Before the days of synthetics like nylon, hemp was the best fibre known to man and used for just about every product from paper to rope. The durable fibres of the hemp plant secured trading and commerce by allowing a high yield crop to grow in even the most adverse conditions to supply raw material needs. In fact any ship from the age of sail was fully rigged with hemp from the cordage to the sails (actually the word canvas is derived from the Latin word for Cannabis) these ships also kept a stock of seeds should they need to plant them in a colony. The plant naturally occurs in diverse climates from low rainfall high altitude mountains to equatorial rainforests.
The crop is very high yield and can produce three to four tonnes of fibre per acre on a well kept farm, it is however important to note that hemp is a very robust plant and can weather many adverse conditions. Hemp grows best in mild temperate regions with an average rainfall of 25 to 30 inches per year, good soil moisture and a PH of 6 or higher is ideal. Weed control on this plant is next to nil being a robust and densely populated crop.
There are two major cultivars of hemp, one for fibre and one for seed production. The seed provides hemp oil which is can be used in food or other industrial uses. The fibre is ready to harvest after 90 days from germination and seeds are ready at an earlier 4 to 5 weeks. Hemp is also an ideal crop to throw into rotation on your fields, it can grow after any other crop has been harvested from the field and can provide some beneficial qualities to the soil (it has been reported that the use of hemp in rotation with soy lowers the nematode population).
Hemp may seem to be a controversial name when it comes to cultivation but one must examine the benefits rather than shunning it due to its publicity. Hemp is different from recreational marijuana in that hemp plants are specifically grown for the fibre focusing the energy of the plant away from producing the psycho active ingredients (Tetrahydrocannabinol THC and Cannabidiol CBD) the plants used for fibre production make little to none of the substance (<3%).
When one wants to start cultivating hemp it is important to make sure you get the growers’ license necessary from your local territory and to use approved fibre yielding cultivars for both efficiency and legality issues and of course, build a new strong steel shed to house the cultivating equipment.
Although the industry in Australia is in its infancy it may be a good investment once more local industries require a demand for the raw material. Hopefully, more companies will see the benefits of using hemp economically and ecologically as an alternative to petroleum based synthetics and slow yielding plants such as paper trees. In fact I’ve actually seen a company that produces skateboards out of the fibre that claim that the board is 50% lighter than and twice as strong as a normal skate deck. If thats the case …we wonder if perhaps you could manufacture garden size sheds from a hemp derived product?