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2023 Study: Industrial Hemp Agronomy & Utilization

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Industrial Hemp Agronomy & Utilization Study

A 2023 study entitled "Industrial Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Agronomy and Utilization: A Review" that was published in the journal Agronomy examined the "historic and recent industrial hemp (grain and fiber) literature, with a focus on hemp agronomy and utilization."

A crop of hemp plants with a butterfly.
How does hemp serve humans?

"For the majority of its existence, hemp has been viewed primarily as a fiber plant, significantly less as a psychoactive plant, and to a lesser degree as an oilseed crop," reported the researchers.


"The study reported that hemp offers a number of benefits, including agronomical, ecological, and pharmaceutical properties."

The study reported that hemp offers a number of benefits, including agronomical, ecological, and pharmaceutical properties and that it is a "useful raw material for a variety of conventional (fiber, food, oil, medicine) and advanced industrial products."


Hemp's Geographical Origin

The study reported that the geographic origin of hemp is a wide region in Central, East, and South Asia. From there, the botanical species spread to all temperate regions in the world. It is believed that the plant spread via being moved by streams, birds, and mammals (including humans).


"Palynological research indicates the presence of hemp in East Asia from about 7000 BCE in Japan to 4500 BCE in China," reported the scientists. They noted that hemp came to Europe via northern and southern routes and its cultivation became common after 500 BCE. In 1545, hemp was introduced to South America (now Chile). It wasn't until 1606 that hemp entered North America (via Port Royal in Acadia, Canada).

A hemp plant leaf with fresh dew.
Hemp produces food, fuel, and fiber.

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil, sometimes called hemp essential oil, is derived from hemp plants and contains "numerous volatile chemicals, primarily monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and other terpenoid-like molecules which can be separated by distillation." Among these are the common terpenes beta-caryophyllene, humulene, limonene, myrcene, pinene, and terpinolene. The study explained that these chemical compounds are used by a variety of industries, including cosmetics, food and beverage, aromatherapy, and the perfume industry.


"Hemp can be used to produce a wide range of fibers, including textiles, paper, construction materials, animal bedding, ropes, mulch, and biomass for energy, heat, and fuel."

The study reported that hemp can be used to produce a wide range of fibers and grains. These include textiles, paper, construction materials, animal bedding, ropes, mulch, and biomass for energy, heat, and fuel.

A 1941 Ford prototype car powered by hemp biofuel.
Ford's hemp biofuel-powered car in 1941.

Henry Ford & Hemp Biofuel

The study's authors noted that Henry Ford, the automotive executive, first used hemp to produce biofuels in 1941. "Ford was the first one to invent a machine powered by this biofuel," reported the scientists. According to the researchers, biofuels derived from hemp are among "the most efficient instruments for diminishing reliance on imported oil and lowering emissions of greenhouse gases."


The study explained that hemp features a high density and fast growth rate, making it "ideal for use as a biofuel crop." It noted that hemp has a higher digestible cellulose content than any other energy crop.


Industrial Hemp Agronomy & Utilization Conclusion

Industrial Hemp Agronomy & Utilization. The study's authors offered the following conclusions to their data and analysis.


"Given the growing media and scientific interest in hemp's many benefits as a sustainable fiber crop, food supply, medicinal plant, and potential biofuel, it appears that hemp may soon enjoy an even greater resurgence in popularity.


"Hemp's many benefits include use as a sustainable fiber crop, food supply, medicinal plant, and potential biofuel."

"Hemp fibers make up a very minor fraction of the textiles produced in Europe and elsewhere today, with cotton still holding a prominent position on the market. In addition to being eco-friendly, hemp is a very adaptable plant, and a source of superfood that is gaining popularity in Europe and other regions.

Two hemp plants.
Hemp can be used many ways.

"Subsequently, there is an increasing demand for the nutrient-dense hemp seeds. Although there is great potential for the hemp seed industry, restrictions on the industry’s growth currently exist.


"Hemp has received a lot of attention over the past ten years as a crop with great potential. That is driven by innovative techniques that allow hemp to be used for building materials, bioenergy, and industrial paper, as well as the use of hemp derivative products to replace petrochemical products.


"Hemp has received a lot of attention over the past ten years as a crop with great potential."

"Advanced demands are emerging on the market and there is more diversification in production technologies, harvesting, and processing equipment. Increasing the production area for industrial hemp requires the development of all these capacities.


"Another key factor is to identify market questions for which modern research needs to provide answers, develop guidelines, and scientific projections in view of the ban that lasted for many decades. Legislation should continue to progress in the service of hemp production.

A bottle of hemp seed oil.
Hemp seed oil is nutritious.

"The development of legislation to remove the remaining hurdles will be critical to realize the fuller potential of industrial hemp. It is essential to clearly define and adapt the Law on Psychoactive Substances as well as the Law on Food Safety so as to not preclude hemp utilization.


"The U.S. should help industrial hemp producers in terms of subsidies already used by producers of other crops."

"The U.S. should help industrial hemp producers in terms of subsidies already used by producers of other crops. The understanding and support of all these aspects would significantly contribute to the development of an increased wider breadth of research, bringing more robust knowledge, and overall significantly improve the position and utilization of hemp products by human societies."


View the original study.

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