~ From Seed To Harvest ~
The Global Resource for farming, harvesting, and processing quality hemp.
The Alabama Hemp Growers and Processors Association, Inc. is the leading hemp industry resource for farmers and manufacturers. From seed to harvest, we deliver decades of hemp farming experience within a network of growers, suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors.
Hemp offers over 10,000 diverse industrial applications ranging from an ideal plant protein to a graphene substitute and including; bio-plastics, construction, food and beverages, textiles, paper, composite panels for the automotive industry, food supplements, other composite materials and bio-fuels.
AHGPA is a coalition of hemp-based companies and industry experts representing every link of the product chain, from seed to shelf. In order to leverage and maximize this new opportunity for hemp, we need to remove ‘blockages’ to development; in particular growers and processors need to be empowered to fully utilize the entire industrial hemp plant and all its products.
We believe it is clear that Alabama – and the rest of the United States – has a huge opportunity to play a leading role in the development and expansion of this rapidly emerging industry; bringing a new ‘cash-crop’ to the United States Ag Industry. Our network creates jobs across the entire supply chain and establishes a ‘hemp innovation’ hub for the United States.
The Alabama Hemp Growers and Processors Association, Inc. represents the primary network of farmers, growers, and processors on major changes in the hemp industry. We are an advocate-network for change and a major influence within the changing political and cultural landscape surrounding hemp.
The 2018 farm bill or Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 is United States legislation that reauthorized many expenditures in the prior United States farm bill: the Agricultural Act of 2014. The $867 billion reconciled farm bill was passed by the Senate on December 11, 2018, and by the House on December 12. On December 20th, 2018 it received the President’s signature and became law. The 2018 Farm Bill is the dawn of a new era, opening the flood gates to prosperity. The Hemp Industry is positioned to explode with billions of dollars potentially up-for-grabs. To keep up with demand, farm supply, seed supply, manufacturing, distribution, and education are paramount.
Daniel Stoltzfus, left, and Lloyd Huyett started an industrial hemp partnership when the 2018 Farm Bill passed.
Farmers who grow hemp claim it is a great rotation crop and can be substituted for almost any harvest. It grows without requiring pesticides and is good at aerating the soil. On a per-acre basis, one estimate claims hemp nets farmers more income than either corn or soybeans. A full crop of hemp only takes 90 days to grow, yielding four times more paper per acre, when compared over a similar 20 year period with redwood trees in the northwest United States. However, there are other varieties of trees that yield two to three times more than hemp.
Hemp fibers are tested for tensile strength, fineness (fiber diameter), and the color is recorded. Moisture content is recorded during every stage of the growing and production process. The THC content of the plant is also contiguously tested to make sure that the level does not exceed the 0.3% mark. Research is still being conducted on the effects that hemp would have on the industry. Set standards are constantly being altered and changed.
BYPRODUCTS / WASTE
The harvested hemp not used is burned. During fiber processing, the core fiber is saved and usually used to make paper, horse bedding, or construction materials. Most hemp producers recycle the core fiber by removing dust, then baling and packaging. The dust can be pressed into pellets used for fuel. The dirt and small chips of core are also used as a high nutrient soil additive.
According to the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), technology is about more than better and faster, it’s also about sustainability. For farmers and ranchers, this translates into how food is grown and raised and the role technology is playing on the farm. Farmers are using technology – moisture sensors, drones, smart irrigation, terrain contour mapping, self-driving and GPS enabled tractors – to produce food more sustainably. According to the Future of Agriculture in The Economist, farms are being ‘teched up’ when it comes to growing food to be both sustainable and profitable. This is a good thing because between 2016 and 2050, the earth’s population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion.
Investment in AgTech continues to rise with AgTech companies taking in more than $1.75 billion during the first half of 2016. Today’s farms and ranches are using a heafty mix of data, math, hardware and software, sensors and analysis to go beyond what the eye can see. Technology like multi-spectral analysis lets a farmer see which crops are doing well by looking at how the plants absorb or reflect different wavelengths of sunlight.
Cassia Networks, an IoT solutions provider, says ranchers now have the ability to continuously monitor the status of all their cows at one time. This includes everything from wearables on cows to monitor their health, location and behavior, controlling water troughs and feeders and even management of the irrigation system for the pastures. Sensors of all types are being deployed in the earth and from the air. For example, put a multi-spectral sensor on a drone and the data it captures will enable farmers to better predict how crops should be watered. Or put the same sensor on a tractor that’s fertilizing the soil and it will be able to see which crops are in need of more or less nitrogen. In the ground, in-field water sensors can help pinpoint the best times and rates for site-specific areas irrigation.
CHANGE AND GROW
Adopting technology means accepting change, learning, and growing. Still, for an industry that lags behind others in adopting technology, the challenges go beyond investment dollars flowing into agtech. Smarter farms also require smarter workers who can operate the new technology. And business and government regulations, trade and tax policies, and even basic technology infrastructure must support these innovative farming techniques.
Analytics is the place to start. These include monitoring technologies and data analytics that can make sense of satellite monitoring or weather simulations. A major area is precision agriculture, which involves collecting and analyzing data at the individual plant level. According to the Stanford GSB team’s research, a survey of American farmers who used precision technology reported average cost reductions of 15% and a 13% increase in yields.