Our perfectly placed hemp harvest can't come soon enough!
While our Hemp Agronomy project is focused on the fertility of the plant, our Perfectly Placed trial focuses on seeding. Specifically, we're comparing vacuum/precision planters to air drills. We've done this trial on cereals, canola, and pulses and seen great results. We thought, why not hemp?
Hemp is a high-value crop, and at Farming Smarter we're about optimizing your agronomy to maximize yield so we figured we would try and seed hemp with the planter. Early on, we saw a large difference.
Currently, you can easily pick out the plots seeded with the planter just by looking at them. On top of visual results, we've found that you can cut seeding rates by quite a bit. Additionally, the even distribution of the precision planter hasn't shown a noticeable difference with harvestability. However, the short varieties we're using could have implications of a difference in field-scale productions; that's one of the bigger challenges facing the study.
Our Perfectly Placed Hemp trial is wrapping up it's third & final year. In these years, we haven't noticed a difference in grain yield.
"It almost doesn't matter what we do, we're going to get a good hemp yield," says Mike Gretzinger, Farming Smarter Research Coordinator. "It's both good & bad; it would be nice to say, 'this is the best way to do it' but at the same time, kudos on the hemp plant for being one of the most adaptable types of plants."
Challenges of Growing Hemp
While resistant, hemp is very vulnerable when it's small. It can get waterlogged in soil; some plants can out-compete it during this stage. The most important challenge to overcome is seed-to-soil contact. Getting a uniform depth & good closure on your furrow is important. Therefore, we thought the precision planter would have a tremendous advantage in ensuring the seed's establishment.
Hemp is a specialty crop, making herbicide choices limited. While we've never really had much trouble from insects or disease with our help, we have found that a clean field with cereal stubble is helpful. Hemp seems to be a durable plant that once it starts to get going, not much will stop it!
If your planter is like ours, it comes equipped with a liquid kit. When we use it, we end up running a lot of phosphorus down into it. We've heard that hemp is very sensitive to phosphorus. The second half of our study is investigating this.
Because you have wider rows and are packing more plants into that row, there's a possibility to see a toxic effect from phosphorus concentration. So far, our hemp has responded very well to the phosphorus & we are seeing great results.
Perfectly Placed Insights
For this study, we used the shortest variety with the earliest maturing rate that was registered. This variety provides us with the best flexibility to fit the needs of our agronomy studies. Because of this, we don't have to worry about harvestability issue; this study was not done on dual-purpose plots.
However, there is room in the future to explore a combined Hemp research project! We're wrapping up our trial next year, but there's still a ton of agronomy research to be done in the industrial hemp market.
To learn more,
Check out our Perfectly Placed trial, and keep an eye out for upcoming results
Or read about our Hemp Fibre & Grain Agronomy project!