How Industrial Hemp May Fit Into Farmers’ Rotations as a Cash Crop and a Cover Crop

How Industrial Hemp May Fit Into Farmers’ Rotations as a Cash Crop and a Cover Crop

Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania has been conducting industrial hemp trials to gather research on the crop’s unique abilities.

To reduce tillage, the Rodale team also looked to hemp’s massive root complex as a guard against weeds and a natural soil preparation for the rotation.

In fact, as the years have gone on, the agronomic impacts of including hemp in a crop rotation seemed to compound. Not only were weeds being reduced when hemp was being grown, but Caton says that she found a continued effect; the reduction of weeds went on into the next growing seasons.

“I really am proud of the work that we are doing because we’re not just looking for a quick fix,” she says. “We’ve never thought that way. We’re looking for long-term plans. And so that’s why we thought that it was essential just to work on incorporating this into farm plans and crop rotations. … The reason we wanted to design [the industrial hemp trials] in this way is because they were really excited about hemp being this great new crop, so we didn’t want it to replace anything. We didn’t want to see it, where people are just growing a monoculture of hemp. We want to be able to use it as another tool to help farmers incorporate it into their already existing farm plan.”

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