Grain, Fiber and Carbon- The future of Tri-Crop hemp production in America.
When you hear the term INDUSTRIAL HEMP what comes to mind? For many, this brings up visions of rope, textiles and fabrics, hempcrete, insulation and other building materials, animal bedding and the multitude of products that can be made from the hemp fiber or stalks of the hemp plant.
Industrial hemp also widely describes the seed or ‘grain’ from the hemp plant, which is primarily raised for processing into food and feed products for people, pets and animals. Hemp seed foods made from the grain include hemp hearts- raw shelled hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp protein powders as the primary ingredients for the multitude of hemp based food products. For animals these same ingredients are widely used, with the addition of raw hemp seed cake and hemp hulls as nutritional co products from these processing lines.
For years now, many in the hemp industry and other advocates have discussed ways to produce and use the whole plant. At IND HEMP, our business model has traditionally focused on what we call the dual-crop model – raising hemp for grain and creating value and additional revenue for our farmers by processing and marketing the stalk (fiber and hurd) of those plants.
The term Tri-Crop for hemp is not a new one, but in the past has had focus on seed-stalk and cannabinoids as the 3rd crop value opportunity. While there are many reasons this has not taken off as scale- including the food grade requirements and practices of grain production creating a challenge to adequately harvest, dry, etc cannabinoid containing chaffe material from a grain crop and the differences in genetics that accompany this process. Ie, great tasting nutritional hemp grain varieties have very low cannabinoids and higher cannabinoid varieties not fitting the production methods or hitting the taste/nutrition notes that the food industry is looking for. Add to this equation the fact that the majority of the hemp (over)production in the US is specifically for high cannabinoid content plants- the market just isn’t there to justify the risk to the grain crop for farmers to try and capture and add value to this part of the plant.
With a new administration in the United States well focused on climate change topics and green initiatives and areas of carbon sequestration, the time has never been better to introduce carbon capture and adding value for farmers to the carbon captured in existing dual-purpose, large scale hemp production. The future of Tri-Crop hemp production in our eyes, is grain, fiber and carbon.
IND HEMP is working with multiple private, public and government agencies to quantify the amount of carbon that can be captured in large scale hemp production. We are working to identify where that carbon goes to be sequestered – ie,into hempcrete and other building materials, or into our bodies through healthy foods and even back into the soil, through the plant’s roots, chaffe and other plant material being worked back into the ground. We know we our farmers are capturing carbon and we are working every day to understand how to work with markets to monetize that carbon and provide value in the form of payments directly to our farmers.
Tri-cropping hemp for grain, fiber and carbon is our vision on how to use all of the parts of the plant in a way that directly adds value to our farmers, while adding benefits to the planet in multiple ways. Monetizing the carbon not only puts $ directly into our farmers pockets but we hope that additional revenue streams from hemp production will take care of our farmers and their need to earn on the crop acres, while helping to balance the market prices and stresses on the grain and straw purchased, especially in Montana where the land is vast, but dry and our growers have not always realized the yields in grain experienced in other parts of the country.
Do you have ideas on how to create and quantify an understanding for how to monetize carbon capture for our farmers raising hemp? We’d love to hear from you! Big change and big ideas take collaboration and IND HEMP is enthusiastically looking to engage with those that can help us help our farmers as we develop the grain, fiber and carbon hemp tri-crop marketplace.