Hemp Provides Options for Farmers Beyond CBD

Written by Shawn Tucker

Cannabis sativa is a well-known crop, and hemp is fully legal to grow in America. (Legally, hemp is just cannabis with less than 0.3% of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)). There are a number of applications for farmers whether they are growing hemp or looking to use hemp products on their farms.

For farmers looking into growing hemp as a crop, it is a good idea to build it into a crop rotation. According to Adesina, et al., hemp is good for crop rotation because it aerates the soil. [1] It was found to increase both wheat and soybean yields when used in rotation.

Another reason for farmers to consider growing hemp especially for fiber, is that it will remediate the soil. [1] Soil remediation is necessary to remove contamination in the soil, especially the presence of heavy metals in the soil. Contamination can come from many places including:

  • Livestock manure runoff
  • Farming chemicals
  • Improper waste disposal

For farmers who grow hemp and also have livestock such as chickens, sheep, cows, or pigs, hemp has applications as well. Hemp seed has been used for over 3,000 years as a source of food for humans and animals.

However, there is research that indicates that the waste products from producing cannabidiol (CBD) can be used to feed livestock. When hemp is processed to make CBD, there are large amounts of plant waste left. This is referred to as spent-hemp biomass or raffinate. There’s also ongoing research regarding the applications for this product as animal feed.

At this point, the research is positive. Scientists found an increase in body weight in sheep who ate hemp versus alfalfa. Dairy cows who were given hemp as part of their regular diet ate less overall but produced more milk.

A primary focus these types of animal studies is to quantify cannabinoids left in the raffinate (specifically THC) that may be intended for animal use. While so far, the findings for using spent-hemp biomass as feed are promising, it is ultimately up to the US Food and Drug Administration as to whether or not it will be approved for this application.


[1] Adesina I, Bhowmik A, Sharma H, Shahbazi A. A review on the current state of knowledge of growing conditions, agronomic soil health practices and utilities of hemp in the United States. Agriculture. 2020; 10(4):129. [Journal Impact Factor = 2.925; Times Cited=36]

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Shawn Tucker

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