Sustainable Farming for Hemp

Sustainable Farming for Hemp

In a business setting, can you attempt to follow the values of organic farming principles yet not sacrifice productivity?   Sustainable farming them comes into play has hemp farming is labor intensive and specific machinery for planting and harvesting hemp is still lacking.   As with any product there a “big company” producers (e.g., farms) and independent farms. (7)  Independent growers like to tout that their crops are “non-GMO, organic, and USA-grown”.  Farmers can cultivate hemp typically one of three ways (though hybrid operations exist):

 

  • Indoor / hydroponically grown – good in that that being indoors you don’t need as much pesticides however the plan needs a constant artificial daylight cycle and crop irrigation
  • Greenhouse potted plants using sun or sun combined with artificial lighting – less artificial light but you still need a lot of water
  • Outdoor or sun-grown using just sunshine and rainwater – most sustainable except crops take longer to yield and water is lost more to evaporation. (7)

 

The U.S. now ranks among the top hemp growing countries in the world (1).   New markets have developed for CBD hemp oil and derivatives (estimated at $16B USD b 2025)(2), an decades old existing market for hemp products (3), along with gradually loosening laws around cultivation and processing are all contributing to the growing U.S. hemp economy.    Hemp has numerous food and industrial uses such as:

 

  • Confectionary, baked goods
  • Animal bedding
  • Medicinal cannabinoids
  • Salad oil
  • Specialty papers
  • Insect repellant
  • Animal food

 

And yes hemp farming includes growing plants for marijuana (a.k.a. Weed, Pot, Reefer, Hash).  Even though hemp and marijuana are both the same species of plant (4), there are important ways in which they differ. The U.S. government defines marijuana defined as “any Cannabis sativa plant that has greater than 0.3 percent THC. THC, short for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. THC gets you “high.” Hemp plants are defined as any cannabis plant that has 0.3 percent or less THC.

And how you grown one versus other….well from seeds (8).  Quality seeds guaranteed to provide high CBD levels and low amounts of THC that fall below the federally mandated 0.3% threshold, can range from $1 to $2 each.(6)

With dozens of states legalizing recreational marijuana and many more allowing medical marijuana (5), this has helped to trigger the number of growers in the U.S.   Why farm hemp?  Farmers that may gotten $1-$2 per pound for vegetable crops can get $35 to $40 for a pound of the high-end hemp. (6)

 Further reading