How Does Hemp Detoxify Soil?
Did you know Hemp was used to pull heavy metals from the radioactive soil surrounding Chernobyl? If so, how does Hemp Detoxify Soil?
The answer – Hemp plants have a high biomass that can accumulate impurities in soil without chemicals, classifying Hemp as a Bioaccumulator; meaning Hemp can absorb more contaminants than other Bioaccumulators with a low biomass. Hemp’s high biomass means it can absorb not only more pollutants, but also a larger variety of pollutants through an ecological process called Bioremediation, a science-word implying Hemp can purify soil without chemicals or machinery.
Hemp also has roots reaching from 1.5 to 3 ft in length, so Hemp is a relatively tall plant with long roots. Those roots can reach more than just the top layer of soil, removing a more widespread contamination from the lower layers of soil (Citterio et al). This can be a relatively quick process as well, since Hemp plants can reach full maturation in as little as 180 days (Cascardi). The quick growing season means that cleaning the soil is not an overly long and drawn out process.
Hemp and Soil Health
Cars, industrial waste, and even some fertilizers can cause a buildup of a toxic metal called Cadmium (Cd) in surrounding soil. This metal often finds it’s way into agricultural lands via the water used to grow our food supply (Salmanzadeh). Hemp has a high tolerance to Cd Cadmium stress, specifically, making it a great candidate for these contaminated sites (Linger, et al).
Hemp can absorb many different heavy metals including Nickel (Ni) and Lead (Pb), cleaning all types of toxin buildups. If you think your site is a bit more hazardous than most, do not fear; Hemp is here! Scientists have tested Hemp’s ability to remove radioactive chemicals from soil around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, and have been successful! This has led to many hoping to use hemp to remove plutonium from the soil around the former US nuclear weapons factory in Rocky Flats, Colorado and also the Fukushima Nucleur Disaster in Japan (Roberts). Hemp’s ability to absorb such a wide variety of contaminants make hemp an ideal way to detoxify soil in most situations!
Hemp from Contaminated Sites Can Still Be Useful
Once the Hemp has fully grown and absorbed toxins from the ground, the plants do not have to be just tossed out like trash! The heavy metals and toxins absorbed by the Hemp plants have been found to be stored in the leaves of the plant, meaning the floral buds, where the purest CBD comes from, are still usable to make Hemp Biofuels (Roberts).
Some research even suggests that plants grown under these stress conditions actually produce more CBD. With CBD such a large, and still growing market, the financial incentive here is pretty obvious. If you are fearful of using CBD Wellness Products from hemp grown in contaminated areas, just make sure the products you are purchasing are made from organically grown Hemp; like the ones we make ourselves.
From a customer’s perspective, make sure proper labeling and supporting COA analysis indicate the oil you are purchasing are free of metals, herbicides, pesticides or other product ingredients harmful for human application.
Hemp plants grown in toxic environments can still be used in other industrial ways such as for Biodiesel fuels, or using the fiber to make over 25,000 different products. Hemp fiber has traditionally been used to make construction materials, paper, and clothing, just to name a few (Cascardi).
The ability to use Hemp plants after they are mature and have absorbed toxins means that there is not only a financial benefit to having clean soil, but also a financial benefit to growing hemp specifically.
The Danger of Human Pollution
Human activity around the world is causing toxic chemicals to pollute surrounding soils, causing soil pollution and major problems for agricultural lands.
These environments can become hazardous for humans and animals, causing problems for decades to come. Different methods of cleaning these polluted sites are being discussed, and more research is showing growing Hemp as a safe and effective method of cleaning these contaminated soils.
Soil Pollution is a Growing Problem in 2020
Humans cause a lot of pollution. This is not a new concept, but it is actually worse than most of us think.
- All of our trash and waste, from us and the things we use, has to go somewhere.
- Exhaust from your car, runoff from factories, and even household waste, are causing pollutants to enter soil and create hazardous environments for humans and animals.
- The land where we can safely grow food is shrinking from soil pollution and urbanization, and it is becoming a growing problem worldwide.
- Large plots of land, especially old mining land, sit there useless, and even dangerous, when that land could be used for housing or growing much needed food.
Hemp and Land Remediation
It’s pretty obvious why it’s important that we come up with fast and effective ways to clean these contaminated lands and make them safe for agricultural uses. The EPA lists Phytoremediation as an effective solution, basically using living plants to remove and contain contaminants (Environmental Management Support, Inc).
In order for this to work, you have to have plants that are able to grow in highly contaminated areas, absorb the toxic materials through their roots, and store those materials in the above ground portions of the plant. These types of plants are called Hyperaccumulators, and there are currently more than 400 plant species that fall in to this category (Ahmad, 2015). With so many options to choose from, Hemp is rising to the top as an ideal option to detoxify soil thanks to a combination of necessary qualities it contains.
Is It Legal to Grow Hemp?
Growing hemp is legal! The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, but with some heavy regulations. One of the more important regulations is that the hemp must contain less than 0.3 percent THC (Hudak). This type of hemp won’t get you high, differentiating it from marijuana, and is often referred to as industrial hemp. Whether you can grow this industrial hemp at home may take a bit more research on your end.
In some states, mostly those that have legalized recreational marijuana, you probably won’t have any issues growing industrial hemp at home. In other states, however, you will need to apply for a license and state your purpose of growing. Make sure to check the laws in your own state.
How to Grow Hemp
Hemp is one of the easier plants to grow, as it tends to grow like a weed, no pun intended. Getting quality seeds, however, can be a different story since it has been essentially banned for almost a century. In the state of California, where Greenlife organics grows hemp plants, the Dept of Agriculture has approved seed cultivars that must be used across the state by all growers. This insures the quality and reliability of each plant.
The best time to plant seems to be May-June, although some farmers have had success outside of this window. Start by tilling the soil and digging a firm, shallow bed for the seeds. Plant seeds about ½ deep, roughly 3-4 ft apart to insure you are not overcrowding your crop. Water when soil is dry. (Industrial Hemp Farms). Roughly 100-120 days after planting, the hemp plants will be fully matured and ready to be harvested. Plants must be properly tried before extraction. There is still room to experiment when it comes to growing hemp, and most large-scale farms are still learning the best ways to grow a plant that has only been legal to grow a few short years in the US.
How Does Hemp Detoxify Soil? Hemp’s high biomass absorbs the widest variety of heavy metals including Cadium, Lead and Nickel!
Human beings have a remarkable ability to change the environment around us, but that sometimes comes with consequences. Waste and runoff from different activities are causing a pollution problem that will become a much bigger issue in the next few decades. Using hemp to clean those large plots of contaminated land, as well as small scale farmers or personal gardens, can be a simple, effective solution with a great financial incentive.
Discussion question: Did you learn anything new about Hemp? Share what you learned in the comments!
Thank you for taking the time to read How Does Hemp Detoxify Soil?
To the health of our planet,
Have questions? Email me at email@example.com
Ahmad, R., Tehsin, Z., Malik, S., et al. Phytoremediation Potential of Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Identification and Characterization of Heavy Metals Responsive Genes. CLEAN – Soil Air Water. 44(2). (2015). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281651509_Phytoremediation_Potential_of_Hemp_Cannabis_sativa_L_Identification_and_Characterization_of_Heavy_Metals_Responsive_Genes
Cascardi, Laura. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) as a phytoremediator. Colorado State University, Dec 2012, https://sites.biology.colostate.edu/phytoremediation/2012/Phytoremediation%20with%20hemp%20by%20Laura%20Cascardi.pdf
Citterio, S., Santagostino, A., Fumagalli, P. et al. Heavy metal tolerance and accumulation of Cd, Cr and Ni by Cannabis sativa L.. Plant and Soil 256, 243–252 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1026113905129
Environmental Management Support, Inc. Phytoremediation Resource Guide. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2015) https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-04/documents/phytoresgude.pdf
Hudak, J. The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer. Brookings Insitution. (2018). https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
Industrial Hemp Farms. Hemp Farming 101: A Beginners Guide for Growing Hemp. (2020). https://industrialhempfarms.com/hemp-farming-guide/
Linger, P., Mussig, J., Fischer, H. et al. Industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) growing on heavy metal contaminated soil: fibre quality and phytoremediation potential. University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0926669002000055
Roberts, C. Hemp cleans toxic soil and produces clean CBD flower, study finds. (2019) https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/toxic-soil-produces-clean-hemp-cbd-flower
Salmanzadeh, M. Cadmium accumulation in agricultural soils. The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. (2017). https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11390