Hemp food for thought

TASMANIAN Institute of Agriculture lecturer in pasture science Dr Beth Penrose, who is in the final stages of a two-year research project that is investigating the potential for hemp as a forage crop, will present a free webinar on Thursday.

Dr Penrose will present the free webinar on the potential for whole plant use of industrial hemp as a forage crop for livestock, and the challenges that need to be overcome for industrial hemp to become a mainstream forage crop.

Dr Penrose is a researcher and lecturer at TIA with a particular interest in improving soil and plant nutrition for human and animal health.

She joined TIA in 2017 from Nottingham University in the UK.

Currently, industrial hemp is grown for seed and/or for fibre to make foods, cooking oils, health and beauty products, textiles and building products.

However, often only part of the plant is used which limits the profitability of the crop.

“Hemp is a relatively new crop in Australia and its potential as an animal feed hasn’t been fully explored.”
“We’ve been working for a few years with research students and with a larger research project looking at the potential of using industrial hemp as a forage crop for livestock.”
“The opportunities, challenges and knowledge gaps will be explored in this webinar,” Dr Penrose said.

“At TIA we have been exploring the broader opportunities for industrial hemp and this webinar will draw on some findings from research students including Aravind Palepu (Masters) who looked at grazing hemp stubble and Rohan Borojevic (Honours) who looked at the nutritional value of industrial hemp for animal feed and its regrowth potential.”

“Up until now, this is the only research that has been conducted regarding the nutritional value of hemp for animal feed in Tasmania.

“The current research is looking at five varieties of industrial hemp, and assessing the effects of genotype, grazing time and environment on the nutritional value.”

“We also want to find out the impact that grazing has on the yield of hemp seeds, and whether it could potentially increase the yield and the overall value of the crop.”

TIA works closely with the Tasmanian Hemp Association, which is a supporter of research to drive development of the industrial hemp industry.

The current research trial is supported by funding from Agrifutures Australia and the THA.