Australian Hemp Program of Research (AHPR)
Broadacre hemp for seed and/or fiber production has the potential to become a sustainable and profitable crop in Australia. It grows quickly and sequesters carbon at twice the rate of trees, supports a diversity of high-value end-products across food, feed and fiber markets, and is able to remediate soils contaminated with heavy metals. Hemp can be grown in traditional rotations with other crops in Australia, providing an additional diversification option to build regional resilience. However, information addressing hemp cultivation, processing and end-use in Australia is scarce, largely owing to an 85-year moratorium on hemp use, research and development.
Under the AHPR hemp varieties, sourced from overseas and locally, will be tested under different Australian target environment and characterized for their potential to deliver into priority value chains. Baseline information on sowing rates, fertilizer use, weed control and integrated pest and disease management will be established. They will inform place-based agronomic packages for the optimal cultivation of hemp to satisfy the needs of local producers and manufacturers. The utility of hemp primary products to value-add highly refined end products will be substantiated, including the fermentation of hemp protein for functional foods, the value-add of beef production through hempseed feeds, the safe use of hempseed oil for companion animals and pathways to market for fiber products. Additionally, sustainability claims around hemp production will be substantiated through life cycle assessments and comparisons to related crops and products.
Collectively the AHPR will i) build confidence in hemp as a profitable cropping alternative for growers, strengthening supply; ii) demonstrate the value-add of hemp in advanced manufacturing, strengthening demand and iii) establish a sustainability framework for hemp that positions it strongly for net-zero markets and marketing.
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