Hemp Today Reports
A £5.9 million (€6.9 million/$7.5 million) project in the UK puts hemp front and center as it embarks on a study about how effectively crops can absorb greenhouse gas and store it in soil and in end products made from plant material.
In addition to environmental outcomes, the project will examine the effects of cultivation systems and agronomy on economic returns – including carbon offset credits – for the crops under study, a critical factor in decision-making by farmers and producers.
“Farmers and associated industries can address climate change goals through input-efficient crops that are able to increase carbon capture, but they must have confidence in achieving profitable and sustainable outcomes,” said Lydia Smith, Head of Innovation Farm at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), who is leading the new Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping (CHCx3).
The CHCx3 initiative brings together a consortium of 22 industry and research partners, including NIAB, which works to improve crop productivity, quality, and sustainability, and experts at the University of York’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) and Biorenewables Development Center (BDC).
A part of the initiative, planned to run from now through 2027, will focus on industrial hemp’s multi-cropping potential as a source of renewable fiber-based outputs, according to a posting on the York University news blog.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to map the economic, environmental and social value of these cropping systems, and establish the real value they can bring to farmers and the manufacturers of low-carbon products, in construction, textiles and bio-composite materials,” said Helen Shiels, Business Innovation Manager at BDC.
The BDC will conduct value-chain validation, provide resources to promote the uptake of crops with high carbon-capture potential, and produce crop guides, web tools and apps for landowners, farmers and agronomists.
The project will also establish a marketplace for trading carbon credits “consistent with emerging standards for measurement, monitoring, reporting and verification,” to generate revenue for farmers while supporting corporate sustainability, according to NIAB.
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The £5.9 million Centre for High Carbon Capture Cropping (CHCx3) will focus on four cropping options, and evaluate their potential to enhance atmospheric carbon capture and storage in the soil and crop-based products.
Further work will help boost the production and use of renewable biomaterials for fibre, textiles, and construction.
As part of a consortium of 22 industry and research partners, experts at the University of York’s Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), will focus on the development and uptake of industrial hemp as a multi-purpose crop, in partnership with Elsoms Seeds.
The University’s Biorenewables Development Centre will conduct value-chain validation and tools-development, roadmaps and dissemination tools to be shared in multiple-stakeholder workshops.
Professor Ian Graham, Academic Director of BioYorkshire, said: “I am excited at this opportunity to build on existing specialist know-how and genetic resources in my laboratory to fast-track the development and adoption of new varieties that increase carbon capture and bio-based feedstocks for industry across the UK.”
The Centre’s ‘Knowledge Hub’ will provide resources to support the effective uptake and utilisation of crops with high carbon-capture potential, with practical outputs such as crop guides, web tools and apps available to landowners, farmers and agronomists.
The project will offer opportunities for its stakeholders to engage with and participate in the ongoing research, including crop trials, field demonstrations, webinars, workshops and training.
Helen Shiels, Business Innovation Manager at the BDC, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to map the economic, environmental and social value of these cropping systems, and establish the real value they can bring to farmers and the manufacturers of low carbon products, in construction, textiles and bio-composite materials.”
The project, led by the National Institute Agricultural Botany (NIAB), Cambridge, has been awarded funding by Defra under the Farming Futures Fund: Climate Smart Farming – part of Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme, delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.
It builds on the BioYorkshire initiative, which aims to develop sustainable solutions for some of the UK’s most pressing environmental challenges, and boost the regional economy through the creation of jobs as part of a new green agenda.