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Ecological benefits of hemp and flax cultivation and products

Authors:
  • Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier GmbH
  • nova-Institut, Germany, Hürth

Abstract and Figures

1. Background According to Regulation (EC) Nr. 73/2009, Article 68 (1), member states may grant direct support to farmers for specific farming practices. Among others, such payments may be granted for (a)(i) specific types of farming which are important for the protection or enhancement of the environment or (a)(v) specific agricultural activities entailing additional agri-environment benefits. According to Art. 69 (1) of this regulation, member states may decide every year to use from the year following that decision up to 10% of their national ceiling for direct payments for the specific support provided for in Art. 68 (1). The next deadline for making a decision on the use of this provision is August 1st 2011. The following text provides arguments for the support of hemp and flax cultivation under these requirements of Art. 68 (1)(a)(i) and (1)(a)(v) above. 2. Effects on soil and crop rotations Both hemp and flax are valuable preceding crops in rotations. Especially hemp has a deep rooting system, has a favourable influence on the soil structure and curtails the presence of nematodes and fungi. After cultivation, the soil is left in optimum conditions (tilth) due to the complete weed suppression following from the high shading capacity of hemp. A study by Bócsa and Karus 1998 reports 10–20 percent higher wheat yields after the cultivation of hemp. Furthermore, due to its vigorous growth, hemp is known to be a pioneer plant that can be used for land reclamation. Also, both hemp and flax have been shown to be suitable to remediate land polluted by heavy metals (phytoremediation), using the biomass as industrial raw materials for composites, pulp and paper and chemical industries etc. (Kozlowski et al. 2004).
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nova-Institute, 2011-05 1 Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
cultivation and products
By Stephan Piotrowski and Michael Carus
1. Background
According to Regulation (EC) Nr. 73/2009, Article 68 (1), member states may grant direct
support to farmers for specific farming practices. Among others, such payments may be
granted for
(a)(i) specific types of farming which are important for the protection or
enhancement of the environment or
(a)(v) specific agricultural activities entailing additional agri-environment benefits.
According to Art. 69 (1) of this regulation, member states may decide every year to use from
the year following that decision up to 10% of their national ceiling for direct payments for the
specific support provided for in Art. 68 (1). The next deadline for making a decision on the
use of this provision is August 1st 2011.
The following text provides arguments for the support of hemp and flax cultivation under
these requirements of Art. 68 (1)(a)(i) and (1)(a)(v) above.
2. Effects on soil and crop rotations
Both hemp and flax are valuable preceding crops in rotations. Especially hemp has a deep
rooting system, has a favourable influence on the soil structure and curtails the presence of
nematodes and fungi. After cultivation, the soil is left in optimum conditions (tilth) due to the
complete weed suppression following from the high shading capacity of hemp. A study by
Bócsa and Karus 1998 reports 10–20 percent higher wheat yields after the cultivation of
hemp.
Furthermore, due to its vigorous growth, hemp is known to be a pioneer plant that can be
used for land reclamation. Also, both hemp and flax have been shown to be suitable to
remediate land polluted by heavy metals (phytoremediation), using the biomass as industrial
raw materials for composites, pulp and paper and chemical industries etc. (Kozlowski et al.
2004).
Different to hemp, flax is not self-compatible. According to recommendations, a rotation of
five years between cultivation of flax should be complied with. This, however, can also be
seen as a positive effect of flax, since it necessitates a diverse crop rotation and prevents the
monoculture of flax.
3. Pest management
Due to its vigorous growth, shading capacity and disease resistance, hemp can be grown
without the use of herbicides, pesticides or fungicides. Hemp therefore easily complies with
requirements of organic farming and is suitable for cultivation near surface water. The crop
leaves the soil virtually weed-free. In practice, no pesticides are applied in UK, Germany and
nova-Institute, 2011-05 2 Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
the Netherlands. Only in France, approx. every eight years an application against the hemp
flea beetle (Psylliodes attenuatus) is common. Moreover, hemp has been shown to be not
resistant to most herbicides which precludes any use in the first place.
Different to the cultivation of hemp, herbicide applications usually are required in flax
cultivation. Due to the low shading capacity, flax is prone to weed infestation. However, this
can also be dealt with by multiple treatments with mechanical hoes.
The quantity of pesticides required in flax cultivation is still less than for many other
crops. It is also interesting to note that the majority of these chemicals are returned to the soil
during retting, thus reducing the quantities required by subsequent rotation crops.
4. Fertilisation
While both hemp and flax require a certain amount of added plant nutrients, their levels
are much lower than for most major crops such as wheat and maize.
Flax requires little fertilising, excess fertilising and especially of nitrogen can lead to lodging
of the crop (Heyland et al. 2006). Flax requires only up to a maximum of 60 kg/ha of
nitrogen, given before sowing, 30-50 kg/ha of phosphor (P2O5) and 70-100 kg/ha of potassium
(K2O), which is much lower than for cotton and many other crops.
Compared to flax, hemp has higher nutrient requirements: Recommended are 80-100 kg
nitrogen, 100 kg P2O5 and 150 kg K2O per hectare.
5. Agro-biodiversity
Hemp is one of the oldest and most versatile crops of mankind. Earliest findings of hemp
products in Europe date back to the Hallstatt culture (800-400 B.C.). Especially in times of
increasing monocultures, hemp is an enrichment to agro-biodiversity. Also flax is a culture
with a long tradition in Europe and provides an enrichment of agro-biodiversity. Furthermore,
flax as a flowering plant adds to the diversity of agricultural landscapes and provides a
valuable habitat for insects.
Biodiversity is a complex issue. A study by Montford and Small (1999) has therefore assessed
the biodiversity friendliness of 23 crops along 26 biodiversity parameters. These, which
included both hemp for fibre and seeds and flax, were then ranked on a scale according to
their biodiversity friendliness. Hemp for seeds and fibre turned out to be in the top five
crops and also flax performed better than all major crops such as wheat, maize or
rapeseed (see Figure 1).
nova-Institute, 2011-05 3 Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
Figure 1: Crude mean evaluation of biodiversity friendliness of selected major crops and fibre and oilseed
Cannabis
Source: Montford and Small 1999
6. Comprehensive assessment of environmental effects in
cultivation
As a study by the European Environmental Agency (EEA 2007) on the ecological effects of
different crops proved, both flax and hemp exhibit excellent ecological credentials in their
cultivation.
In the EEA study, crops were evaluated on a scale from A to C, with A indicating the best and
C indicating the worst performance on a parameter. Table 1 shows the results for hemp and
flax and puts them into perspective to a selection of other crops.
In essence, hemp and flax also performed much better in this study compared to most other
major crops.
nova-Institute, 2011-05 4 Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
Nutrient depletion
Pesticides
Erosion
Soil compaction
Water consumption
Agro-biodiversity
Permanent pasture
A
A
A
A
A
A
Short rotation coppice (poplar, willow)
A
A
A
A
B
A
Winter grains
A
A
A
A
A
B
Linseed
A
B
A/B
A
A
A
Hemp
A
A
A/B
A
B
A
Alfalfa
B
A
A
A/B
A/B
A
Grass
B
B
B
A/B
A
A
Switchgrass
?
?
A
A
A
A
Mustard
A/B
B
A/B
A
B
A
Sorghum
A
B/C
A
A
A/C
B
Wheat
A
B
A
A
B
C
Sunflower
A/B
B
B/C
A
B
B
Rapeseed
B/C
C
B
A
0
A/B
Sugarbeet
B/C
B
C
C
A/C
B
Maize
C
C
C
B
A/B
B/C
Potato
B/C
B
C
C
C
C
Table 1: Environmental effects of hemp, linseed and different major crops
Source: Adapted from EEA 2007; A = Lowest impact on environment, B = Medium impact, C = Worst impact
on environment, 0 = not applicable, ? = insufficient database
7. Product assessment: Example of bio-composites
Not only the cultivation itself, but also the products made of hemp and flax entail significant
environmental benefits. In a new study by the nova-Institute, hempbased reinforced plastics
are compared to non-renewable materials like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and glass
fibre reinforced polypropylene (PP-GF) regarding their environmental impacts on climate
change and primary energy use (Haufe and Carus 2011). The analysed products are compared
based on their functionality. The assessment encompasses the extraction of raw materials,
where applicable the cultivation of crops, the processing of materials and transports. The
results are shown in Figure 2. Six of the LCA studies included in the analysis of hemp fibre
reinforced plastics are depicted in the chart. All of the hemp fibre reinforced plastics
examined show energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) savings in comparison with their fossil-
based counterparts.
In this respect, flax products are not significantly different from hemp and studies on flax
products therefore led to similar results.
nova-Institute, 2011-05 5 Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
Figure 2: GHG emissions expressed in percent for the production of fossil-based and hemp-based composites for
a number of studies where available showing the effects of biogenic carbon storage
(PTP: Polymer material made of Triglycerides and Polycarbon acid anhydrides, PES: Polyester)
Source: Haufe and Carus 2011
8. Summary
Table 2 summarises the evaluation of both crops on the most important parameters discussed
above.
Hemp
Flax
Crop rotation
++
+
Effects on soil
++
+
Pest management
++
+/-
Fertilisation
+/-
++
Agro-biodiversity
++
++
Products/LCA
++
++
Table 2: Overall ecological assessment of hemp and flax
Finally, the usage of Art. 68 by member states in the past may also give an indication that
hemp and flax are good candidates to benefit from this support (see European Commission
2010).
Several member states have already granted support for a diversification of crop rotations
(France, Italy and Spain) with reference to Art. 68 (1)(a)(v) of Regulation (EC) Nr. 73/2009.
Since both hemp and flax provide significant benefits as preceding crops, both are clearly
eligible for support, especially if integrated in a proper crop rotation system.
Furthermore, Denmark granted support for perennial energy crops and Poland for
cultivating pulses and herbage legumes under Art. 68 (1)(a)(i).
nova-Institute, 2011-05 6 Ecological benefits of hemp and flax
9. References
Bosca, I. and Karus, M. 1998: The Cultivation of Hemp: Botany, Varieties, Cultivation and
Harvesting. Sebastopol, CA: Hemptech.
EEA (European Environment Agency) 2007: Estimating the environmentally compatible
bioenergy potential from agriculture, Technical Report No. 12/2007.
European Commission 2010: Overview of the implementation of direct payments
under the CAP in Member States in 2010 (Reg. 73/2009),
http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/sfp/pdf/ms_en.pdf, accessed May 12th 2011.
Franck, R. 2005 (Ed.): Bast and other plant fibres, Robert R. Franck, Woodhead Publishing
Limited, 2005.
Haufe, J. and Carus, M. 2011: Assessment of Life Cycle Studies on hemp fibre composites.
Biowerkstoff-Report 8/2011.
Heyland, K.-U., Hanus, H., Keller, E.R. 2006: Olfrüchte, Faserpflanzen, Arzneipflanzen und
Sonderkulturen. Handbuch des Pflanzenbaus, Volume 4, Eugen Ulmer KG, Stuttgart,
Germany.
Kozlowski, R., Przemyslaw, B. and Mackiewicz-Talarczyk, M. 2004: IENICA- Interactive
European Network for Industrial Crops and their Applications: Report from Poland,
http://www.ienica.net/reports/poland.pdf, accessed May 12th 2011.
Montford, S., Small, E. 1999: Measuring harm and benefit: The biodiversity friendliness of
Cannabis sativa. In: Global biodiversity 8(4): 2–13.
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Kenevir tarla koşullarında yetiştirildiği gibi, sera veya özel donanımlı büyüme odalarında topraklı veya top-raksız koşullarda da yetiştirilebilmektedir. Bitkilerin açık arazi koşullarında yetiştirilmesi iç mekâna göre daha kolaydır. Ancak her iki durumda da Uluslararası sözleşmeler ve ulusal yasalar gereği kenevir bitkisinin her türlü yetiştiricilik faaliyeti, izin gerektirmektedir (Bkz. Bölüm 18). Ülkemizde az miktarda da olsa tarla koşullarında yetiştiricilik yapılmakla beraber, sera şartlarında yetiştiricilik henüz bildirilmemiştir. Bununla beraber, Avrupa ülkelerinde özellikle de Hollanda' da eğlence amaçlı, İngiltere' de ise tıbbi amaçlı iç mekân yetiştiriciliği, yoğun olarak yapılmaktadır. Tıbbi, eğlence ya da endüstriyel amaçlı yetiştiricilikte bitkilerin üretilmesi, iyi tarım uygulamaları (sertifikalı çeşit kullanma; izlenebilir hasat ve kültürel uygulamalar) yapılmasını gerektirir. Bütün yetiştiricilik amaçları için literatürde bildirilen yoğun çalışmalar yapılmıştır. Her ne kadar bu kitabın içeriğinde konu edilmemişse de, üzerine onlarca kitap ve on binlerce araştırma makalesi yapılmış kenevir bitkisinden yasa dışı olarak üretilen esrar, genellikle kontamine olmuş ve içeriği kullanıcıların hayatını tehlikeye sokacak şe-kilde değişkenlik göstermektedir. Bu nedenle Bölüm 18' de de vurgulandığı gibi, yasadışı şekilde üretilen esrar, insan ya da çevre güvenliği açık bir şekilde göz ardı edilerek üretilmektedir. Bu kapsamda çok sayıda ülke-de esrar kullanımının yasallaştırılmasının sağlanması, yetiştiricilere yasal olarak meşru üretime girme fırsatı verirken, sektörün ise yüksek etik standartlarına sahip personel istihdamını zorunlu hale getirmektedir. Ülkemizde gıda ve özellikle pamuk gibi tekstil ham maddesi üretimi için tarımı yapılan birçok lif bitkisi türünün ham fiyatının düşük olması nedeniyle, bazı bitki türleri üretimi devlet tarafından desteklenmektedir. Pamuk gibi yoğun ekimi yapılan bitkilerin rotasyonu, nispeten kârlı olan veya rotasyonda agronomik olarak vazgeçilmez birkaç türle sınırlıdır. Rotasyon için bu az sayıda tür sayısı özellikle toprak patojenlerinin oluşmasıyla, hastalıkların görülme sıklığını arttırmak-la birlikte, verimi de düşürmektedir. Aynı zamanda biyositlerin, özellikle de toprak fumigantlarının daha fazla kullanılmasına yol açmaktadır. Tarla tarımının daha sürdürülebilir hale getirilmesi ve daha az kimyasal madde kullanması gerektiği genel olarak kabul edildiği için, bu durum endişe verici bir gelişmedir. Mevcut rotasyonlara eklenecek olan yeni bir ürünün tanımlanması ve geliştirilmesi, yukarıda açıklanan sorunların çözülmesine yardımcı olabilmesi muhtemeldir. Rotasyona girecek yeni türlerin; kârlı olması, geniş bir endüstri dalında kullanılması, iç pazarda olduğu gibi dış pazar için de üretilmesi ya da dış pazardan ithal ettiğimiz ürün talebini karşılaması, az miktarda ilaçlama gerektirmesi veya hiç kullanılmaması ve mevcut kültürü yapılan rotasyon türlerinde görülen hastalık oranını azaltmaya yardımcı olması gerekmektedir. Yaprak ve kaliksindeki tüylerinden 21. yüzyılın ilacı olacağı düşünülen psikoaktif olmayan kannabidiol ve kannabigevarin gibi kannabinoidler (Bkz. Bölüm 13); tohumlarından yemeklik yağ ve tedavi destekleyici be-sin maddeleri; gövdelerin dış dokularından lif, iç sert dokularından kağıt hamuru, otomotiv endüstrisi için ham madde ve binalara yalıtım malzemesi gibi binlerce ürünün üretimi için yapılacak kenevir yetiştiriciliğinde, yukarıda verilen sorunların çözümüne bir alternatif olarak yetiştirilebilir. Halihazırda kenevir tarımı üzerinde çok sayıda araştırma yapılmış ve yüksek verim ve kalite için uygun koşullar belirlenmiştir. Kenevir subtropik ve/veya kuru bölgelerde yetiştirilirken, gerçekte bu türün genotipleri lif ve yağlı tohum da dâhil olmak üzere, çok amaçlı olarak kullanıldığı zamandan beri, geleneksel üretim bölgelerinin dışındaki bölgelerde de lif için yetiştirilmektedir. Bu bölüm içeriğinde, iki alt bölüm halinde; (1) Lif kenevir tarımı ve (2) Tıbbi kenevir tarımı ile ilgili literatürde bildirilen teknik bilgi ve uygulamaları hakkındaki en temel bilgiler bir araya getirilmiştir.
Book
Bast and other plant fibres, a title in Woodhead Publishing's series on fibres published in association with The Textile Institute, UK, is the first book in over 50 years to cover the most interesting plant fibres and those with high annual production. Bast fibres have many textile applications, with natural fibre composites being the fastest growing due to the combination of their relatively low cost and excellent technical characteristics. Following the editor's introductory chapter, which includes a comprehensive set of tables comparing the physical and chemical characteristics of the fibres, Chapter 2 discusses jute while Chapters 3 and 4 cover flax and hemp. Subsequent chapters are devoted to ramie, sisal, coir and abaca. Chapter 9 brings together information on minor fibres that may deserve greater interest on the part of international markets, while Chapter 10 is dedicated to the use of bast and leaf fibres in composites. Information is included on production and processing, physical and chemical properties, and on economic, environmental, and health and safety considerations. This book is an essential reference to academics and researchers in agriculture and horticulture as well as those working in textiles, apparel and industrial design, and textile testing and forensic science laboratories. It will also be invaluable to those working in government departments such as agriculture or trade and industry.
The Cultivation of Hemp: Botany, Varieties, Cultivation and Harvesting. Sebastopol, CA: Hemptech. EEA (European Environment Agency) 2007: Estimating the environmentally compatible bioenergy potential from agriculture
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