A Review on the Current State of Knowledge of Growing Conditions, Agronomic Soil Health Practices and Utilities of Hemp in the United States
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC 27411, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2020, 10(4), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10040129
Received: 13 February 2020 / Revised: 10 March 2020 / Accepted: 8 April 2020 / Published: 14 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Influence of Pre-Harvest Factors on the Product Quality of Field Crops)
Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is an emerging high-value specialty crop that can be cultivated for either fiber, seed, or cannabidiol (CBD). The demand for hemp and its products has been consistently on the rise in the 21st century. The United States of America (USA) has reintroduced hemp and legalized its production as an agricultural commodity through the 2018 Federal Farm Bill. Although there is a renewed interest in the adoption of hemp due to the emerging market, its production in the United States (US) remains limited partly because of unclear agronomic guidance and fertilization recommendations. This review article provides information on the current agronomic management practices that are available in the literature and identifies the future research needs for cultivating this multipurpose crop to address the growing market demands. Hemp production could be beneficial if managed properly. Hemp fertilizer requirements vary in accordance with the type of hemp grown (seed, fiber, or CBD), soil, environmental conditions and requires a wide range of macro- and micronutrients. Integrating management practices in hemp cultivation intended to build soil health is promising since the hemp cropping system is suitable for crop rotation, cover cropping, and livestock integration through animal waste applications. Hemp also has significant environmental benefits since it has the potential to remediate contaminated soils through phytoremediation, convert high amounts of atmospheric CO2 to biomass through bio-sequestration, and hemp biomass for bioenergy production. This review identifies that most of the agronomic research in the past has been limited to hemp fiber and, to some extent, hemp seed but not CBD hemp. With the increase in the global markets for hemp products, more research needs to be conducted to provide agronomic guidelines for sustainable hemp production.