How Can Cultivation of Cannabis in Europe Be Sustainable?
Let’s get straight to the point: to grow hemp and marijuana like the products from Hempo on a large scale, you need tons of electricity and water. Especially if you live in the Netherlands where the temperatures are low. The cultivation is therefore not sustainable, but that will change. After all, the growers are willing to invest heavily in innovation that makes their plantations sustainable. Although that willingness is usually enforced. Governments do not like to give permits to polluting companies. Growers are creative: they use auto-flowering seeds, install solar panels, and filter water.
Automatic flowering auto-flowering seeds
The use of auto-flowering seeds is on the rise. That’s because the plants aren’t seasonal. They bloom as they age and are not dependent on light. This is easy for growers. They don’t have to adjust the light cycle. In addition, these plants are smaller than other cannabis plants. They do not grow longer than a meter, which makes them grow perfectly in small spaces. After germination, it takes barely seventy days before they are ready for harvest.
How hemp returns nutrients
Growing hemp also requires a lot of water and energy, but less than marijuana and importantly, also less than cotton. Hemp is mainly used to manufacture substances. This makes hemp more sustainable than cotton. Hemp returns nitrogen to the soil while cotton can just deplete the soil. Hemp produces long fibers that become stronger when wet. In addition, hemp absorbs less water and you can put more plants per hectare. In dry areas, such as in California, hemp can be the solution to the parched soil.
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Energy needed for lighting, ventilation, and temperature
Cannabis is grown indoors in Europe and in many other countries for safety reasons. Growing indoors is extremely energy-intensive. Energy is needed to control the right lighting, ventilate and keep the temperature constant. Legal indoor cultivation accounted for 1 percent of total electricity consumption in the United States and produced 15 million tons of CO2. That was nine years ago when only fifteen states were growing legal medical marijuana and before recreational cannabis was legalized.
Innovation to reduce the ecological footprint
Innovation is the way to reduce the ecological footprint. Several nurseries grow as sustainably as possible by installing LED lighting and a water recovery system and replacing pesticides with biological pesticides. That requires some knowledge. Those who switch to organic products will have to clean their equipment more intensely and more frequently. However, 90 percent of CO2 emissions come from power consumption. Switching to wind and solar energy can be a solution to significantly reduce emissions.
Now that global warming is again high on the agenda in the United States, the cannabis industry is well aware that growing marijuana or hemp in a polluting way is no longer of this time. At the United Nations, there is a program that gathers the major players in the sector to devise initiatives that can make the cannabis industry more sustainable.