The city of Decatur, Illinois has included planting acres of industrial hemp for soil remediation and erosion control as part of its water quality improvement plan.
A $9.8 million grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service seeks to reduce sediment and nitrates in the Mississippi River Basin Critical Conservation Area, including Lake Decatur watershed. The project aims to reduce up to 50% of the sediment and 20% of the nitrate nitrogen annually flowing into Lake Decatur, which costs the city more than $90 million to dredge every few years.
Hemp will be planted within targeted sub watersheds and land parcels as a soil remediator. The Saint Louis, Missouri-based hemp processing company TigerFiber Hemp will contribute fiber variety hemp seed for the program.
“We want to plant this hemp in areas where it can be seen from the road by farmers driving past,”CEO and TigerFiber founder James Forbes said.
The five-year, climate-smart hemp pilot project within the larger project is being funded in part with cash, technical expertise and in-kind donations from the National Hemp Association and Hemp Innovations Foundation.
The Illinois Hemp Growers Association said the project would accelerate the hemp industry in Illinois and demonstrate the positive environmental and economic benefits of the crop.
“The grant funding for this project gives an opportunity for hemp to be highlighted as a proven ally to farmers and the environment,” Rachel Berry, founder of Illinois Hemp Growers Association, said.