Industrial hemp has been part of the history of various cultures for millennia. Its cultivation has become more popular in recent years, due to the great interest in the search for renewable and environmentally friendly materials.
Industrial hemp, thanks to its properties and versatility, has attracted the attention of several industrial sectors, which have invested all their efforts in its research and development.
What is industrial hemp?
Hemp is often confused with marijuana, they belong to the same species, but they are different varieties. One of their big differences lies in their chemical composition. Marijuana is rich in Tetrahydrocannabinol. This substance is responsible for the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
Industrial hemp is a variety of cannabis, which is cultivated to obtain its fibers. Its THC content is less than 0.2%, so it has no psychoactive effect. In addition, the varieties that are cultivated to obtain fibers, are characterized by longer and less leafy stalks.
What products are obtained from industrial hemp?
The products obtained from industrial hemp are used by several industries, distributed in various production sectors. Some of these products are:
Hemp fiber: It is characterized by being durable, resistant and soft. It is used for the production of hemp clothing. It has several properties.
- Thermogenic: Helps regulate body temperature.
- Bactericidal: It prevents the development of bad odors due to bacterial proliferation.
- Photoprotective: It blocks ultraviolet rays with an effectiveness of 95%.
Flowers: It is highly appreciated for its medicinal uses, it is also used for beer fermentation and to prepare infusions.
Seeds: Thanks to its high nutritional value, it is widely used in the food industry.
Straw: Industrial hemp straw is made up of cellulose and fiber, making it ideal for producing bioethanol, paper and biomass.
Industrial hemp applications
Among the applications of industrial hemp, we can mention the most outstanding ones:
Textile: Hemp fibers are very versatile, allowing the creation of fine or thick fabrics as required. It is possible to make clothing or accessories for any season of the year. It has several characteristics that make it the ideal fabric.
- It is a fiber three times longer than cotton.
- It is soft and resistant.
- It is fresh and porous.
- Light and flexible.
- Resistant to adverse effects.
Food sector: Its seeds are rich in proteins and minerals, which makes them a food with great nutritional value. Milk is also made from hemp seeds.
Hemp oil is a derivative that has several medicinal properties that help to combat various health problems.
Purifies water and soils: Its roots are capable of decontaminating soils of heavy metals, radioactive, nuclear, or chemical material.
Construction: It is used to manufacture building materials, mostly insulating. They have also developed materials similar to concrete.
Filters: It is mixed with other vegetable fibers to make filters for tea, coffee or oil bags.
Medicinal and aesthetic: Hemp contains CBD which has demonstrated multiple applications in health and cosmetics.
Legislation plays an important role in making this economic activity safe. Although there are times when the laws are not clear enough and there are legal loopholes that hinder its exploitation.
The cultivation of industrial hemp in Europe has grown by 70%. According to data from the European Industrial Hemp Association, there are more than 50,000 hectares dedicated to its cultivation throughout the continent.
The European Union has a fund to financially support farmers who want to start growing industrial hemp, but only if they meet the requirements. As for the food sector, there are no restrictions prohibiting its sale. On the other hand, CBD has been accepted as a food supplement, which has helped to promote its production.
Industrial hemp in Spain lacks legislation to help promote its use. But, even so, its cultivation has spread in recent years, reaching more than 500 hectares. Catalonia is the region with the most hectares, followed by Galicia, Extremadura and Cantabria.
In Spain, only varieties approved in the European Union catalog, designed for the production of seeds, fibers and grains, can be grown. But this leaves out the exploitation of CBD, where it cannot be used for medical or cosmetic purposes.
Benefits of industrial hemp
Among the benefits of industrial hemp we can mention.
- It is a crop that adapts very well to its environment.
- More than 25 thousand products can be derived from hemp, such as textiles, cosmetics, paper and construction materials. All of them are biodegradable.
- Its fibers are long, strong and durable.
- Its cultivation prevents soil erosion and the spread of weeds.
- It does not require herbicides or pesticides.
- Improves soil structure.
- Its yield is very high.
- It can absorb up to 13 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare.
- It returns nutrients to the soil.
- It saves up to 75% of water, compared to cotton.
- It reduces deforestation, since it is an alternative for making paper.
- What is the future of this plant?
- The cultivation of industrial hemp faces several obstacles in the future. But, it is an alternative that comes at the right time.
- The growing need to turn to sustainable and renewable materials. It leads us to look for a different approach where ecological awareness prevails.
What is the future of this plant?
The cultivation of industrial hemp faces several obstacles in the future. But, it is an alternative that comes at the right time.
The growing need to turn to sustainable and renewable materials. It leads us to look for a different approach where ecological awareness prevails.
This has led various industrial sectors to become increasingly interested in hemp cultivation. They are even investing in technology that can modernize its cultivation and improve its production.
The kinship with marijuana has tarnished the image of hemp, but over time laws have been developed that have promoted its cultivation. The European Court of the European Union ruled in favor of products containing CBD, where it was sentenced that they were totally safe, since they only contained less than 0.2% of THC, which allowed their free circulation in all member states of the union.
After what was declared by the European Parliament, where the permitted limit of THC in hemp has been raised from 0.2 to 0.3%. And added to the fact that it is a crop in trend, we could summarize that the future for industrial hemp is very promising.