DECATUR — Hemp means different things to different people.
The National Hemp Association is using the Farm Progress Show to clear the air about this versatile crop.
Geoff Whaling, chairman of the association, said many people get confused when differentiating between marijuana and hemp.
“Hemp is cannabis but it is not marijuana,” Whaling said. “Marijuana has THC, whereas hemp does not.”
Interest in hemp increased after the 2018 Farm Bill signed by President Donald Trump removed it from the the list of controlled substances, thus legalizing its production. The 2014 Farm Bill already had allowed for limited hemp production for research and the 2018 Farm Bill authorized the secretary of agriculture to use that research to determine the viability of a domestic hemp market.
“We have a great relationship with the National Hemp Association,” said Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress Show director. “We pretty much asked them to do a ‘Hemp 101.’ Do the beginner thing. How does it affect government programs, how does it affect crop insurance, what is CBD versus THC? All those very basic things about hemp that everybody on the grounds has a varying degree of understanding about.”
Sam Kupferschmid, a 32-year-old Bloomington corn and soybean farmer, said he is considering growing hemp.
“As a grower in the market I like to come and check out what is the latest and greatest,” Kupferschmid said. “I’d like to get educated on (hemp) more.”
Whaling said hemp can be used for nutritional purposes, body care, animal care, industrial purposes and a slew of other products.
Industrial uses for hemp Whaling discussed during his presentation at the Farm Progress Show on Tuesday included textiles, automotive and aviation and energy storage, building materials and paper.
He said hemp provides an excellent natural fiber alternative to cotton, which is the most widely used raw material for textile production. The automotive and aviation industries can use hemp bio-composites which are made of nonwoven hemp matting and polypropylene or epoxy pressed into parts like door panels, window pillars, package trays, truck liners and luggage racks.
According to the National Hemp Association, these bio-composites are cheaper and reduce fuel consumption when used in place of fiberglass composites.
Hempcrete is a bio-composite material made of the inner woody core of the hemp plant mixed with a lime-based binder. The material is not synonymous with concrete, said Cameron McIntosh, president and principal owner of Americhanvre, a hempcrete installation company.
An Americhanvre demonstration on Tuesday showed how hempcrete is formed for insulation purposes. McIntosh said the material is environmentally friendly and can reduce heating and cooling costs by 30 to 40 percent.
“Hempcrete can’t be used in situations where it is completely inundated with water like in a street,” McIntosh said.
The organic material is resistant to mold, mildew, rot, pests and fire. The fire resistance is due to the insulation being carbon negative, McIntosh said. The woody core of the hemp plant is condensed into shavings and this is where all of the carbon is stored.
“You’re trapping the carbon inside rather than creating more so this is more environmentally friendly,” McIntosh said. “It really improves the quality of life within the structure as well because it is managing the moisture and humidity.”
Demonstrations of how the insulation is created will continue throughout the Farm Progress Show. Whaling will present more on hemp education with several examples of how hemp can be incorporated into a variety of industries.