BY FRANCES THOMPSON
DOING THEIR BIT: Jerrys Plains farmers Paul and Vicki Nichols have just finished sowing a crop of hemp on their property, above, and a hemp crop in the region, below. – Main Picture by Max Mason-Hubers
AN ADVOCATE of industrial hemp says the Hunter’s mining industry and farmers have a lot to gain from the plant’s large-scale production and processing in the region.
Ecofibre Industries managing director Phil Warner has supplied seed to about eight Upper Hunter properties this season, including farmer, miner and Singleton councillor Paul Nichols and his wife Vicki at Jerrys Plains.
It is the couple’s first hemp crop and they have sown a 20-hectare paddock.
‘‘We have to diversify,’’ Mr Nichols said.
Cattle and feed crops, such as lucerne, are the Nichols’ traditional mainstay.
Ecofibre Industries distributed CHG, a sub-tropical fibre hemp variety, for the Hunter trials.
The Nichols’ crop is due for harvest in February.
‘‘The summer storms can knock out the leaves because we only need the stalk,’’ Mr Nichols said.
‘‘While it’s growing the leaves keep the sun off and they cut down on weeds.’’
That saves on fertilisers because the leaves are removed in harvesting and ploughed back into the soil.
In the Hunter, Mr Warner said hemp could be used in mine rehabilitation as soil stabiliser, a compost or spray mulch.
The dry fibre could be used for horse bedding, erosion control, wine storage or even building products.
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