Decatur, Illinois, has included the cultivation of acres of industrial hemp for soil treatment and erosion control as part of its plan to improve water quality.
A $9.8 million grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service seeks to reduce sediment and nitrate in the critical conservation area of the Mississippi River Basin, including the Lake Decatur watershed. The project aims to reduce up to 50% of the sediment and 20% of the nitrate that flows annually into Lake Decatur, which costs the city more than $90 million to drench every few years.
Hemp will be planted within the targeted sub-watersheds and plots as a soil processor. Hemp processing company TigerFiber Hemp based in St. Louis, Missouri, will contribute assorted fiber hemp seeds to the program.
“We want to grow this hemp in areas that can be seen from the road by farmers who have driven in the past,” said James Forbes, CEO and founder of TigerFiber.
The five-year climate-smart cannabis pilot project within the larger project is being funded in part by cash, technical expertise and in-kind donations from the National Cannabis Association and the Hemp Innovations Foundation.
The Illinois Hemp Growers Association said the project will accelerate the hemp industry in Illinois and demonstrate the positive environmental and economic benefits of the crop.
“Grant funding for this project provides an opportunity to shine a light on hemp as a sure ally to growers and the environment,” said Rachel Berry, founder of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association.