Hemp - the fiber of the past

Scott Golden sgolden at vth.colostate.edu
Fri Jan 3 03:02:04 EST 1997

On 2 Jan 1997, FITanT wrote:

> Nutrient toll is usually countered these days with artificial fertilizers.
	The massive amounts of artificial fertilizers that are applied are
beginning to haunt us with increased nitrite levels and other contaminants
in our groundwater and domestic wells.  Most crops, especially the grains,
can have the majority of the biomass tilled back into the soil, and
rotated with crops such as legumes.  Forestry has long recognized " lop &
scatter or chipping as a means to return valuable slash residue back to
the soil.  Correct me if I am wrong, does not hemp cultivation remove
the entire plant for fiber, leaving no residual to be reincorporated into 
the soil?
>  Being from the southern forestry belt. One would think that you would see
> a lot old tobacco fields being under utilized these days.  It is doubtful
> that hemp is more depleting than crops like cotton or tobacco. 
	Actually, I am from the Rocky Mountain region.  Being involved in
Arboriculture & Forest Stewardship I have had a chance to exposed to
southern forestry practices.  When it comes to pulp & fiber production
while still maintaining a healthy forest, those folks have it down to an
art as well as practicing good eco-science.
	As far as the tobacco fields, in no way can I support its
cultivation efforts.  History shows us that when tobacco was initially 
grown in this country its nutrient toll was so great that those fields
were soon non-sustaining and abandoned.  So more land was cleared in order
to accommodate the crop with no bio-mass being returned.  Sooooo....
comparing hemp to tobacco for nutrient depletion is right in line.  As far
as cotton, only the fine fiber is used, with the combine returning the
rest of the residual to the land. 
> As for taking acreage out of of food production,  the US prooduces the
> majority of grains for export. I'm sure you've heard the ADm commercial
> calling themselfs "Supermarkets to the world."  This is just an
> alternative crop and a new product..  
	There is nothing wrong with export, it is great business!
Supplying hungry third world countries and areas that cannot sustain grain
producing crops is an enviable position to be in.
	A new crop it is not, it has been utilized for hundreds of years
for fiber and OTHER uses.  I believe hemp has its place.  I just resent it
being presented as a better alternative, without a downside, to fiber
production from our forests.  The best answer to our fiber problem in this
world is better utilization and reduced consumption.
> It might even be better land management. 
 	How can a depleting crop such as hemp possibly be considered
better land management than sound forestry?  With annual tillage and
fertilizer application, no residual returned to the soil, limited, if any,
benefits for wildlife and recreational opportunities, little aesthetic
value, this is a hard one to accept.

	By the way, when was the last time you had a picnic or took a nap
in the shade of hemp plant?

Scott Golden

" Trees are the answer! "

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