The Northern Territory Government has allowed the legal growing of hemp on a commercial basis. Wake up Queensland you are being left behind.
A cattle station in the middle of Australia has unveiled its plans to grow industrial hemp, with the industry today given the green light by the Northern Territory Government.
Aileron Station, about 130 kilometres north of Alice Springs, is expecting to start hemp trials within the next three months, and has long-term plans to grow up to 100 hectares of the crop.
The station’s owner, Caason Group, bought the property in 2015 with the intention of growing hemp, and has been waiting for the Government to make it legal.
Caason general manager of group operations Andrew Barratt told ABC Rural the group had conducted plenty of research into industrial hemp production in south-west WA, and it was now hoping to play a “big part” in the NT’s hemp industry.
“The legislation is long-awaited and represents a fantastic opportunity for the NT,” Egli ha detto.
“Since 2015 we have been involved in hemp and have been looking at opportunities to trial and develop hemp as a crop at Aileron.
“To that end, we have reviewed existing research and applied our own knowledge gained in WA, and are confident that we have the right varietals and farming techniques to be successful here.”
Mr Barratt said the company expected two harvests each year, with the first commercial harvest expected in 18 months.
The station has a 2,000 megalitre per year water license for horticulture purposes and Mr Barratt said they planned on using it all to grow hemp.
He said they would start with one pivot before expanding out to two, taking no more than three years to reach full production.
The company expects to invest about $500,000 in the Aileron hemp project, including labour and irrigation infrastructure.
Research suggests hemp can be grown in arid Central Australia
Mr Barratt said the company was confident hemp would grow well in the arid zone, but they would conduct trials at Aileron Station before expanding into to full production.
Until the legislation was passed, Caason Group had not been able to conduct the hemp trials.
Mr Barratt said although the red centre was relatively dry, soil in the region was hardy, and their research indicated it would be a good place for growing hemp.
“Soil as a medium is very good — we believe we have the right mix of organic inputs to be successful here,” Egli ha detto.
“We have conducted a number of soil tests and have established protocols with respect to water technologies, soil microbials, fertilizers and seed varietals that we believe will make this successful.
“We have gone about as far as we can without field tests — this legislation should allow for that.”
Mr Barratt said diversifying into horticulture would of benefit to the cattle station, particularly given recent dry conditions in the region.
“Cattle is our primary focus and will continue to be a primary focus for us, but cattle alone won’t provide the commercial returns that we want as an organisation,” Egli ha detto.
“Having a capacity to diversify into cropping makes such a difference to our bottom line — it enables us to continue to employ people, train people, and improve the land.”
The NT is the last state or territory to legalise the hemp industry
The hemp legalisation bill passed today had the support of both the NT Government and the Country Liberal Party.
The legislation puts the NT in line with other states and territories, in allowing for the growing of industrial hemp.
Opposition Leader Gary Higgins said it was a welcome opportunity to diversify the NT’s economy, but more needed to be done to get the industry off the ground.
“The Opposition look forward to hearing from Government in relation to what plans they have to support the industrial hemp industry, through either direct assistance and/or the construction or operation of processing facilities,” Egli ha detto.
“If the Government is serious about this opportunity then it needs to put its money where its mouth is, and commit the necessary resources to make it successful.”
Chief executive of NT Farmers Association, Paul Burke, said it was an exciting day for the NT.
“There is real opportunity for a hemp industry in the Northern Territory,” Egli ha detto.
“It’s great to hear the story of Aileron and there are other producers that have contacted us expressing an interest [in growing hemp].
“We’ve still got a way to go in terms of how do we process it, where do we process it and what do the logistics look like? But I think there’s a real opportunity for the Department of Primary Industry to partner with industry and do some meaningful research so we can expedite this industry.”
Hemp is considered a very versatile crop which can be used in a wide range of products, including sunscreen, clothing, soap and a concrete substitute.
Hemp is a variety of cannabis but, due to its low concentration of the plant’s psychoactive property, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it has no wacky effects on people when consumed.