Jamie Bartley, a UK hemp farmer based in Leicestershire, is hoping to break the stigma on cannabis by speaking about the practical and industrial benefits of hemp farming in the UK.
With 240 acres and one million square meters of hemp plants on his farm, he says that planting hemp could drastically improve the environment, carbon footprint, renewable energy and economy in the UK.
“Coming from a construction and waste management background, I started looking at hemp for its phytonadione properties and its ability to absorb heavy metals from contaminated grounds.
“If we are cultivating on a large scale how many heavy carbon use companies it could be a benefit to, and how it could replace the alternatives they are using now, that is why I am here today” he said.
Currently, Jamie has two hemp farms that are licensed by the Home Office and the licensing regime for industrial hemp cultivation in the UK, however, he can only succeed is his long term goals if other farms were able to receive the same licensing and have crops of the same scale.
What are the benefits?
Jamie has stated that one of the main benefits of hemp is that that it can absorb 25 times the amount of co2 that a forest would.
This means that in a a 120-day growth cycle of hemp crop, the same size forest would take 25 years to have the same carbon sequestration benefit.
Equally, because of its sustainability, he says that hemp is able to break up compacted soil, which increases the follow-on crop yield when used in a responsible crop rotation: “This has a huge benefit when providing food on our shores for our people and for our population.
“By cultivating hemp in a good crop rotation, it will also leave more nitrogen in the soil.”
To gather data and legitimise his facts, Jamie has worked alongside soil science world leaders in the Cranfield soil science department, looking at the agricultural benefits in regards to increasing crop yields, breaking up compacted soils and the nutrient uptake and input into the soils.
“There is a lot of data online, but hemp is grown in most other countries more so than it is in the UK.
“There is a lack of factually correct data that has been put together for UK cultivations, meaning there is nothing specific to our soil conditions, our PH and weather conditions.
“This year we have really focused on gaining this data and doing lots or research on all of the variable constituents we are looking to use in our end products” said Jamie.
Big plans for the future
With 1.8 million tonnes of petrochemical plastics being produced this year alone, his main focus is to target large carbon usage industrial sectors such as construction and plastics and offer them an alternative resource.
Over the next 12 months, he is going to be working hard to construct a primary decortication facility and a primary processing and manufacturing facility, but says investment is needed for success: “The industrial hemp sector requires investment, we need the infrastructure in the UK to enable it.
“For this industry to scale, and for the green industrial revolution to really push forward we need to have multiple processing facilities set up around the country that can service the agricultural community around it.
“This will enable them to draw maximum value, decrease carbon miles travelled for any of the raw materials and the output materials as well.”
Additionally, he is working alongside Liverpool John Moor University and Salford University to focus on a carbon negative modular housing system which aims to use 100% hemp derived materials, bio composites and insulation materials, which could potentially change the future of the construction industry.
Breaking the stigma
In the UK, Jamie has claimed that there is a lot of stigma around the word cannabis and people are more acceptable to the term hemp, rather than cannabis.
He says a normalisation of the word is needed: “Once we break peoples perception of the word cannabis, we can show people how it can benefit their specific situation, environment or industry.”
To help further understanding of the hemp industry in the UK, Jamie is creating a hemp exchange program where he will work with the UK cultural sector; anyone who is interested in using hemp in a crop rotation; and those interested in the cultivation of hemp on a large scale.
Jamie says has his own ways to make this happen: “We are trying to enable the UK with a cultural sector to develop the UK hemp industry, give credible data, help people make the right decisions around their end uses and in turn get the maximum commercial return from the crop.
“The more we can cultivate the crop on a large scale, the better it will be for the environment.”
For anyone who is interested in getting involved you can contact Jamie through his website: www.unyte.co.uk