Italian Farmers Are Using Hemp to Decontaminate Soil

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Cannabis is getting a lot of applause these days as a beneficial medical treatment for a variety of different conditions. But now, our favourite plant is receiving mainstream attention for its ability to heal the earth.

In an article and investigation by CBS News, farmers in Italy are using industrial hemp to leach contaminants out of the ground that have unfortunately turned their farm into a useless plot of land. The farm in question is in Taranto, Italy and was once known for its ricotta cheese and meat production.

In 2008, contaminants from a local steel plant, Europe’s largest, seeped into the soil. The 600 sheep that were housed on this farm were contaminated as well and were unfortunately slaughtered. The soil toxicity was high enough to deem the land unfit for agricultural activity and the farm was forced to cease all commercial operations.

Now, the farmers have decided to embark on an experiment to remove the toxic waste using crops of industrial hemp.

In a process known as phytoremediation, contaminants are absorbed and changed at the soil-root interface. Then, the release of organic substances by the plant changes the chemical composition of the contamination and renders its toxicity harmless in many cases. Phytoremediation has been proven to pull heavy metals from soil and was most notably used after the Chernobyl disaster to help remove massive amounts of toxic waste from the ground.

Marijuana.com’s expert on all things cultivation is Allison Beckett, who gave us her expertise on the process.

“Industrial hemp has been used in areas of high radiation, such as Fukushima, with promising results. Not only does hemp pull toxic, heavy metals from the soil but it actually improves soil structure making it usable as productive farmland again. Plus, hemp is a vigorous plant that absorbs CO2 rapidly, making it an encouraging solution to climate change.”

Despite the sad and unfortunate situation these Italian farmers find themselves in, this brilliant move on their part is a win-win for everybody. The earth gets decontaminated, Italy will continue producing incredible meat and cheese, and our favorite crop gets even more praise for its universal healing capabilities.

Viva L’Italia!

Photo courtesy of Moyan Brenn

About Author

Jonathan Hiltz has been a journalist, a TV producer and marijuana advocate for over sixteen years. He has a wife, two young children and lives in the Toronto area.

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