Despite being a growing industry, there is still a lot of confusion about the cultivation of hemp. Is it really a worthwhile investment? What can be produced with hemp? Is it better growing hemp outdoors or indoors, in a greenhouse?
In this article we find out everything you need to know about the cultivation of hemp.
Hemp is a plant with a tall and thin stem, which can exceed 4 meters in height and is extremely productive. The cultivation of hemp can therefore prove to be an advantageous investment from several points of view.
One of the characteristics of hemp is its high productivity: it is even one of the most productive plants in the entire temperate zone. A crop grown in 3 and a half months produces four times more biomass than the same area of forest in one year.
Hemp grows at a very fast rate and frees the soil of all weeds better than a chemical herbicide would.
It is also a plant that lends itself to many uses: each part, from the stem to the seeds, can be used for a different purpose. In fact, you can't throw anything away from hemp!
The cultivation of hemp is also an environmentally sustainable activity. It is even one of the few crops with a positive impact on the environment: in practice, during cultivation and processing of the hemp, more CO2 is absorbed than is emitted! A growing hemp crop absorbs about 4 times as much CO2 as other trees. We can therefore define it as a plant with depolluting action!
Not to mention that it does not require pesticides or fertilizers to grow.
Investing in hemp cultivation therefore means investing in a cleaner, more sustainable world.
Hemp is more productive than cotton in terms of textile fiber. It can be processed in textile systems until it is as thin as you want: fabric made from hemp is therefore an excellent substitute for cotton but also for synthetic fibers. In the Po Valley, in Italy, hemp has been cultivated for its textile fiber since Roman times.
From the point of view of characteristics, hemp fabric is very resistant, versatile, breathable and biodegradable.
Besides textile fibers, hemp seeds can be obtained from the plant: they contain proteins of high biological value and can be used in many ways in cooking.
Moreover, from hemp seeds is extracted a precious oil, rich in unsaturated fats and therefore beneficial for our body. Not only: hemp seeds oil can be used in the industrial field for the production of paints, soaps, waxes, cosmetics and detergents, all sustainable and biodegradable products.
The tow and the woody part are other important raw materials, which are used to produce paper in a sustainable way. In particular, the shorter cellulose fibers are used to make paper for everyday use, cardboard and newsprint, while the tow is used to make excellent quality hemp paper, which is thin but very strong.
Since hemp fiber and wood are naturally white in color, there is no need for the polluting chlorine treatments that are used for traditional paper.
Hemp is a material that can also be exploited in the green building sector. In particular, whole stems can be used to make hemp boards of different sizes for use in carpentry and construction instead of wood, as well as furniture, flooring, blocks and finished products.
Hemp wood is extremely strong but at the same time flexible and light, all attractive qualities.
In addition, the production price is much lower than that of other wood qualities, for example oak.
There is another particularly interesting application that comes from the cultivation of hemp. Using this plant, it is possible to produce completely biodegradable plastic materials, suitable for being transformed into packaging, insulation and other products.
Plastic is responsible for a large part of the pollution of our planet: its production, in particular, is an extremely toxic and harmful process for the environment. Hemp, which is very rich in cellulose, is transformed into sustainable plastic materials through a polymerization process.
Finally, hemp can be converted into fuel to replace polluting petroleum products. This plant has a very high yield in vegetable mass and can therefore be used for the production of biomass fuels: the conversion from biomass to fuel is economically convenient and does not impact the environment. Burning biomass fuels instead of oil, in fact, does not increase the greenhouse effect: carbon dioxide is first removed from the atmosphere during the growth of the plant and then returned to the air during combustion.
With hemp as a fuel instead of oil, the effects for our planet would be incredibly positive.
Before investing in the hemp business, however, it is necessary to make some clarifications about the different types of cultivation.
Here are what are the differences, advantages and disadvantages of growing hemp outdoors and in a greenhouse.
Growing hemp outdoors is beneficial for some reasons but complicated in other ways. Certainly there is more space to work with, natural sunlight available, free rainwater and the necessary ventilation.
However, growing hemp outdoors requires some experience and constant care: the plants are in fact exposed to pests, predators, frost in winter and heat waves in summer. Also, you need to choose the right area because not all conditions are suitable for hemp growth and precautions against insects are necessary.
Growing hemp in a greenhouse is definitely easier because you can set and control all the parameters of the environment where the plants will grow. It is easy to change the settings related to temperature and humidity, but also those related to lighting, which is particularly important in case of hemp cultivation.
Once upon a time one of the disadvantages of growing hemp indoors was the high consumption of electricity and, consequently, the expense of electricity bills. Today this problem can be solved thanks to the new renewable energy plants: Artigianfer has invested a lot in sustainability and today realizes customized greenhouses for each type of cultivation.