By Emily Ledger
The global CBD market has been expanding rapidly over the last few years, with new businesses utilising the cannabinoid popping up all the time. One of the benefits of this growth is it’s potential to bring awareness to the other advantages of the Hemp plant.
We have already looked at a number of these benefits, but one of the most interesting might be the plant’s ability to improve soil quality.
The quality, or health, of soils, depends widely on their acidity or alkalinity, the presence of chemicals and metals, and fertility. All of these things are affected by the presence of toxic chemicals. Soil is most often exposed to harmful chemicals through pollution from industrial sites or growing aides like pesticides and fertilisers.
A degraded soil can often result in poor quality or reduced yield in agricultural crops. It can also prevent the growth of wild plants and harm ecosystems. The excessive degradation of soil quality can result in significant ecological and environmental problems.
How Hemp Can Help
On top of all of Hemp’s potential for creating commercial products, it has also been found to be effective at improving soil quality. The plant is known to significantly reduce the concentrations of toxic chemicals and metals in soil. It was even used to aide the clear-up of toxic heavy metals at Chernobyl.
Hemp can improve soil quality through a process called phytoremediation. Phytoremediation refers to a plant’s ability to remove or convert harmful contaminants from soil, water or air.
Phytoremediation is far from exclusive to the Hemp plant, however, it is one of the more effective at carrying out this process. The process can also work in different ways, with some plants expelling the pollutants into the air, through their leaves. In comparison, Hemp holds the pollutants until it dies, when the process starts over again.
Hemp is a great option for this cause because, like a weed, it can grow almost anywhere. The plant can reach full maturity in just six months, making it highly effective at converting large quantities of extracted nutrients into potentially useful products. The plant also has a large root system, which digs deep into the soil. This increases the area of soil which can be effectively treated by the crop.
Hemp’s vast and deep root system also provides more stability to the soil, protecting it from soil erosion which can be caused by excess waterfall, land movement and excessive agricultural practises.
Pesticides and Fertilisers
The plant’s ability to grow in a wide range of conditions often eliminates the need for fertilisers. Hemp also has a naturally-occurring resistance to most insects which means that few, if any, pesticides are necessary. This prevents the further pollution of the soil as the plant grows.
As well as extracting chemical pollutants from the soil, Hemp also absorbs heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and nickel. High levels of toxic metals most often occur because of industrial pollution. These contaminants can be toxic in humans when absorbed in high doses.
Hemp as a Rotation Crop
For thousands of years, humans have been rotating their crops in an attempt to maintain soil diversity and quality. In the United States farmers often alternate between crops like corn and soybeans. With last year’s passing of the Farm Bill, which allows the large-scale cultivation of Hemp, some farmers are now considering adding Hemp to their crop rotation.
Although Hemp cannot solve all of the ecological and environmental problems concerning agriculture and soil pollution, it has proven its ability to lend a helping hand in improving soil quality. Ecological improvements can surely be added to the list of Hemp benefits.