October 12, 2019
If necessity is the mother of invention, cannabis and hemp farmers could be on the verge of changing modern farming. Because chemical pesticides are not FDA-approved for these “new” crops, cannabis farmers have found unique, natural options to protect their crops.
Yet, despite being legally barred from using pesticides, legal cannabis farmers still successfully produce millions of pounds of cannabis each year. In this way, cannabis may inadvertently be leading the long-awaited revolution in organic farming. The healthy yield produced by cannabis and hemp offers a visible counterpoint to industrial farmers who previously believed they could not survive without their “tried and true” yet harmful agricultural practices.
Long-term, many cultivators realize that the current model for industrial agriculture is not sustainable.
Monoculture—or the practice of using a single plot of land for one individual crop—depletes the nutrients in the soil and ultimately leaves the area less fertile and more difficult to use year after year. Farmers try to return those nutrients to the soil with the use of fertilizers.
But according to a study in the Environmental Research Letters, fertilizer and manure runoff causes $157 billion in health and environmental damage every year. The well-known weed killer Roundup was only recently hit with a lawsuit for its link to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma despite being used in farms and residential areas for nearly 50 years.
Cannabis and hemp farming methods are defining a new and sustainable model of farming. Many are employing non-toxic, systemic strategies, such as breeding plants that are naturally resistant to insects using bioinformatics and next-gen sequencing. Cannabis farmers also use controlled environments, beneficial insects and non-toxic foliar sprays made from ingredients like neem oil.
While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the need for chemical pesticides, large agriculture companies can still utilize many of the non-toxic cannabis farming techniques.
If all agriculture was held to the same limitations as cannabis and hemp, modern farmers would be forced to learn better techniques to grow organically, respect the biosphere of the soil and breed plants that are insect and disease resistant, no matter where they are grown.
On National Farmers Day, Front Range Biosciences honors the growers who are leading the charge using sustainable farming methods. By providing a better model of environmental responsibility, these businesses support the well-being of both people and the planet.
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