Wednesday, 08 July 2020 10:08

Hopes high after co-op’s hemp trial

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Fonterra’s hemp plantation near its Darfield factory in Canterbury. Fonterra’s hemp plantation near its Darfield factory in Canterbury.

Fonterra is trying its hand on growing hemp and results are encouraging.

The team planted 10ha of hemp, the equivalent of 10 rugby fields, at its 850ha Darfield Farm in Canterbury, next to its Darfield processing plant.

The unique, cutting-edge trial to see how hemp grows under dairy wastewater irrigation is the first of its kind in New Zealand and likely a world first too.

It turns out that it grows very well and the pilot has been a huge success. The hemp improved profitability and productivity, while reducing the co-op’s environmental footprint.

Fonterra’s regional farm operations manager, Steve Veix, says the dry, hot Canterbury summers make it challenging to find the ideal crop to grow on-farm, which traditionally grows pasture. 

“We were approached by the local Carrfields Limited team to trial planting hemp and after some research of our own, we went for it. 

“From there we took advice from the team at Carrfields, given the newness of the crop in New Zealand.”

Whilst hemp looks like cannabis, it does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana. 

Fonterra says its team found that hemp crop has many benefits: it is quick to establish, grows well, requires minimal fertiliser, is water efficient and soaks up nutrients so reduces potential leaching.

The fibre, grain and seed harvested from the hemp crop will now go on to be used in products such as flour and oil. 

Veix says the success of the trial means the team at the farm are now considering increased areas across a couple of South Island farms for the coming season. 

“This trial is just one of the many innovations Fonterra is doing as we try to be a more sustainable dairy producer.”

More like this

Carbon zero milk

Fonterra has joined forces with a supermarket chain to deliver what it claims is NZ’s first carbon zero milk.

Winners committed to environment

It's not the first time Fonterra’s John Wilson Memorial Trophy recipients, Nick and Nicky Dawson have been recognised for their sustainability efforts.

Dairy champions

Hawke's Bay dairy farmers Nick and Nicky Dawson have been awarded Fonterra’s John Wilson Memorial Trophy for responsible dairying.

Featured

 

Limited feed puts ewes at risk

Severe feed shortages in parts of the country mean many ewes are on a nutritional knife-edge heading into lambing and could be at risk of developing metabolic disorders.

Jack’s unique solution

Jason Jack was left with severe spinal injuries after a wakeboarding accident when he was 29, but that hasn’t stopped him getting out and about in difficult environments.

National

$10 payout!

A small but select group of Fonterra farmers are on the cusp of setting a new milk payout record.

The migrant workers dilemma

Dairy farmers want more Kiwi workers, but they also want relaxed immigration restrictions. So, what's the problem?

Producing milk, the Miraka way

The goal of Māori-owned dairy company Miraka, near Taupo, is to become the most sustainable dairy company in the world.

Machinery & Products

Landpower invests in cow central

One of Australasia’s largest, privately-owned farm machinery distributors, Landpower is building a new $10 million complex adjacent to Hamilton Airport.

Maize moisture in a moment

With forage maize playing such an important part of the New Zealand fodder supply chain, a useful hand-held moisture measuring…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

A ticking timebomb?

There could be another dairy health scare brewing in China and this one starts in our backyard.

Please explain

Does anyone in the Government understand the essential role St John Ambulance has in our society?

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter