According to experts, the beginning of hemp cultivation has been traced back to 8000 BCE in what is now modern day China and Taiwan. Based on its history, hemp may have been one of the first agricultural crops known to human civilization. Hemp has been used throughout history for food, healing, and to cultivate an array of materials. This plant potentially has over 2,500 different uses that can help combat the environmental consequences of an increasing human population.
Here are five reasons how hemp can help the environment:
1. Hemp crops use significantly less water than traditional crops
Industrial hemp is a great option to create various materials, especially fabrics. For instance, Let’s compare hemp crop water usage to that of the world’s staple fabric, cotton. To produce 1kg of cotton, which is equivalent to a single shirt and pair of pants, farmers may use more than 20,000 liters of water. In comparison, 1kg of hemp only requires up to 500 liters of water for cultivation. This is a no-brainer, hemp fabric is a sustainable alternative that would help to preserve our natural resources, such as water.
2. Hemp requires less land for the same amount of yield
Hemp plants grow closely together & do not require as much land in order to produce the same yield as most traditional crops. Studies have shown that on a per acre basis, hemp’s yield was significantly higher than most traditional crops. For instance, in 1997 the return on continuous corn was $75.71 and the return on soybeans was $102.20. Compariably, the return on hemp seed & fiber was $319.51. Additionally, hemp produces the same amount of cellulose fiber in one acre as trees do in four acres.
3. Requires less use of pesticides, fungicides, & other harmful chemicals
The increased use of pesticides and fungicides on agricultural crops has a harmful effect on the environment and many wildlife species. Hemp farmers do not need to use nearly as much of these chemicals as hemp is reported to be naturally resistant to many pests, fungi and diseases.
4. Can slow & prevent deforestation
Statistics suggest that we lose around 19 million acres of forests each year largely for animal agriculture and logging. As stated earlier, if we use hemp as an alternative for tree cellulose fiber, we could save three-fourths of the land currently being used in timber production. Timber production requires large amounts of land compared to hemp. 70% of American forests have been destroyed in the last 100 years alone and hemp cultivation could help preserve what we have left. We have also already discussed how hemp crops utilize less land than most traditional food crops in order to produce the same yield. In these cases, hemp is seemingly an excellent alternative for paper products, food and various materials, all while destroying less forested land.
5. Grows fast & has the ability to grow in different climates
Hemp grows quickly and can be grown across many different climates, making it an ideal crop. Depending on the type of hemp, hemp can be harvested as early as 60 days but is usually harvested after three or four months. Compared to timber production, which can take several decades, hemp crops are far more productive and sustainable.
Hemp may not hold all of the answers when it comes to environmental obstacles, but it certainly can help us move in the right direction.