Investigating the potential of hemp as a forage crop

University of Tasmania

  • Project code: PRJ-012489

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Monday, June 29, 2020

  • Project completion date: Friday, June 3, 2022

  • National Priority: NEI - New and Emerging Industries - SM1


Tasmania produces ~80% of the total Australian hemp seed production, and approximately 1400 ha of hemp was grown in Tasmania in 2018. Hemp provides an excellent option for short summer gaps in the cropping sequence, and goes from sowing to maturity in around 90 days. However, currently the value of the hemp crop is limited, as only the seed is harvested and utilised- the vegetative parts are discarded or burnt. It is possible that hemp could be used as a forage crop exclusively, or as a dual purpose crop (such as canola) for both forage and seed. However, there has been little research regarding the suitability of hemp for forage or dual-purpose cropping.
This project is a collaboration between the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and the Tasmanian Hemp Association. The project aims to investigate which commonly grown varieties of hemp are most suitable for forage and/or dual purpose (seed-forage) cropping, when the best time is to graze these varieties and the effect of grazing on seed yield.
The project will use two fully replicated experiments at two locations over two years, with five hemp varieties currently grown in Tasmania. It will test the effect of genotype, site and season on nutritional composition, regrowth potential and dual-purpose suitability of hemp. The results from this project will be shared with growers, consultants and interested parties via fact sheets and a field day.


New and Emerging Industries

Research Organisation

University of Tasmania

Objective Summary

The objectives of this project are to:
• Identify hemp varieties that are suitable for grazing.
o We will use 5 hemp varieties from a range of geographical origins (Canada, China, France,
Finland and a locally developed cultivar). These varieties have been chosen as they are
genetically diverse, are commonly grown in Tasmania and are known to be adapted to the
environmental conditions
• Ascertain the optimal time for grazing hemp in terms of nutritional value for feed and regrowth
o We will simulate grazing at different time points, analysing the nutritional composition of the
removed parts and measuring the amount of regrowth
• Quantify the effect of grazing on seed yield
o We will compare the seed yield of the grazed plots and the un-grazed plots.