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TAS Country : December 9th 2010
32 Tasmanian Country Friday, December 10, 2010 Innovation GROWTH INDUSTRY: Phil Reader in a paddock of recently sown industrial hemp at his property near Bishopsbourne. Picture: KAROLIN MacGREGOR High hopes for hemp future KAROLIN MacGREGOR INDUSTRIAL hemp is a crop not often seen in Tasmania, but if Phil Reader gets his way that will change. Mr Reader recently planted his fifth industrial hemp crop at his property near Bishopsbourne. One of the most widely grown and used crops in the world, industrial hemp has a multitude of uses, from an oil seed right through to fibre, stock feed and bedding. Unfortunately, the plant is often wrongly associated with the illegal drug marijuana, even though they are completely different plants. Mr Reader said this uninformed attitude was holding back what could be a viable industry in Tasmania. He said despite years of work to get the crop categorised as an agricultural crop, State Government legislation meant anyone who wanted to grow, store, transport or buy industrial hemp must obtain licences. ''It comes under the Poisons Act, which is ridiculous, and unfortunately it's stopping us from developing what could be a viable industry here,'' Mr Reader said. ''This isn't an issue in any other country in the world, but here there just seems to be a major lack of understanding about the plant by the politicians . . . all we get is a lot of talk, but no one seems to want to do anything about it.'' He is one of five growers who have planted about 30ha this year to produce industrial hemp seed for a Queensland-based company. Mr Reader said Tasmania's climate was ideal for hemp seed production. This year's crops are being grown using seed imported from Canada, which is one of the world's biggest hemp producers. Hemp is also widely grown in France and is now being grown commercially in China and New Zealand. Mr Reader said if the licensing requirements of the plant were changed, it could become a widely grown crop in the state. ''It would be another cropping option for farmers,'' he said. ''It's not a high-return crop, but it's quick- growing, so it would fit in well with a lot of cropping rotations, and it doesn't need a lot of water or fertiliser.'' Mr Reader said there was also potential to develop an industry in the state that included value-adding and processing. ''In my view we could easily develop an industry here for downstream processing,'' he said. This year's hemp crop has germinated well and has benefited from the recent rains. Mr Reader said there was still some trial-and-error involved in growing hemp. ''Weed control is an issue because there aren't any chemicals registered for it, but that's something we're working on,'' he said. Mr Reader said that, once established, the crop grew quite quickly. ''Day length determines when it sets seed, so we normally start harvesting in February,''he said. The crop will be harvested using a conventional header. Mr Reader said there were also many uses for leftover plant material. rura ro ert Launceston 6337 1522 15 St John Street, Launceston Hobart 6235 1451 2 Collins Street, Hobart 2083626-101210 • Off y 2p 28 h Jan 20 "Court Farm" Buckland H o c " o a a a a c n an f n n . a n ng a goo nco f o a p an a on a , h h gh p of p op y a o n p o 00 ca . R acc p o f ga on po n a . Th c 830 an on ho a o n y ng h w n no a o . G a nco , f y an f po . • ,33 h c a o 3,288 ac o 7 An w h 0407 805 624 Da k nn 0409 936 643 • P o R /T a T R f on ag • 2 o h nan ho an wa gh
December 2nd 2010
December 16th 2010