One of the most underrated features of hemp is its ability to clean contaminated soil. Its deep and extensive root structure and high biomass production allow it to absorb heavy metals and toxins so effectively, that it was used in the 1990s to help decontaminate soils in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. More recently it has been used in Italy to help rid the soils of dioxin pollution caused by one of the country’s major steel plants.
Hemp plants employed in such clean-up processes are not used to produce goods destined for human or animal consumption. Instead the biomass can be used to make biofuels or for other industrial purposes. Research is ongoing to determine exactly where the contaminants end up in the plant – i.e. in the stem, leaves or flower – and the best use of this biomass.
Hemp’s potential for soil remediation is obviously a huge advantage for farmers that want to hoover up toxins from their land. However, it also means that hemp grown for human consumption will likely pick up any less obvious contaminants that might be lurking in the soil. The only way of knowing whether these contaminants have made their way into hemp products is via reliable laboratory tests and reports.
Organic farming should significantly reduce the likelihood of such contamination. Many CBD products claim to be ‘organically’ or ‘naturally’ grown, but are not certified. This means that the hemp used is grown without the use of man-made chemicals, but it does not necessarily guarantee soil quality; heavy metals and pesticides can linger for years. Organic certification means that the land used for farming has been free from prohibited pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilisers for a minimum of 3 years (this stipulated period varies from country to country).
Aside from reducing the risk of contaminants, organic farming is future looking: it increases biodiversity and improves soil quality, it reduces agrochemical needs (which require high quantities of fossil fuels to be produced), and prevents the groundwater becoming polluted with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Ultimately, it helps to ensure greater environmental sustainability over the long term.
Organically certified brands that we stock:
Ahmad, Rafiq & Tehsin, Zara & Tanveer Malik, Samina & Asad, Saeed & Muhammad, Shahzad & Shah, Mohammad & Khan, Sabaz Ali. (2015). Phytoremediation Potential of Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Identification and Characterization of Heavy Metals Responsive Genes. CLEAN – Soil Air Water. 44. DOI:10.1002/clen.201500117.