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Hemp has been grown and used for multiple products and purposes for centuries. The industrial hemp plant can be used in the production of paper, textiles, building & construction materials, biofuel, food, organic body care, clothing, plastic composites and more. Canada is a world leader in the production of food and oils from hemp seeds. However, currently the wasted stems represent an opportunity to create a new industry for rural communities. A Canadian manufacturing company, BioComposites Group Inc. (BCG), is on the forefront of creating this new hemp fibre industry.
BCG is an Alberta based manufacturing company located in Drayton Valley, Alberta. BCG’s owners, Dan and Brenda Madlung, pride themselves in building a Company and industry based on developing and commercializing innovative products that exploit the extraordinary mechanical qualities of the industrial hemp plant. “By producing and selling products to end users, we have an opportunity to develop the entire value chain which will benefit rural communities with jobs and wealth creation. We can do this while utiltizing a waste product and benefiting the environment through carbon capture.”
BCG acknowledge the social and environmental shift amongst consumers, as they are starting to purchase products that not only work, but have environmental considerations and sustainability at the top of mind. A recent study found 54% of people will choose environmentally friendly products over a conventional one, allowing BCG to work alongside their consumers to have a positive environmental impact. “Socially we can create jobs and wealth in rural communities, many who are negatively affected by the current downturn in the oil patch.”
An example of BCG’s commercialization efforts is in the growth media vertical. Through innovative processing, BCG is able to upcycle the fibres to create a truly sustainable growing media. Their Terrafibre™ products are 100% biodegradable, sustainably and Canadian made, while also providing superior performance. Designed as a natural alternative to rockwool, peat moss and coconut coir, the Terrafibre™ Growing Media is made from 100% Canadian grown hemp fibres.
Terrafibre™ Hemp Growing Cubes
Designed for any seed from tomatoes to lettuce to cannabis, the Terrafibre™ Hemp Growing Cubes are the perfect all-natural growing media for transplanting cuttings or starting seeds. Terrafibre™ Hemp Growing Cubes combine two parts of the industrial hemp plant; Bast Fibres and Hurd with a plant based binding agent. These two components combined provide an ideal growing environment for all seedlings. Bast fibres are high in water holding capacity and provide the strength for roots to attach to. Hurd is the larger “woody” fibres that increase air porosity in the cube.
Terrafibre™ Hemp Growing Cubes are completely biodegradable and compostable. Hemp fibre, because of its high lignin and cellulose content takes a long time (1-2 years) to break down completely. This allows for the ideal properties as a growth medium with the added benefit of composting. This allows it to be added to garden soil to help break up clay soils and increase water absorption.
BioComposites Group have recently released the 1.5” and 2” cubes and are releasing their complimentary 4” block, slab, and loose fill. BCG will provide a complete growing system from a local source, that can still provide the yields people expect while eliminating disposal issues. Not only do the end users benefit but so does the complete value chain including the farmer and rural communities.
Terrafibre™ Hemp Grow Mat
Terrafibre™ Grow Mats are comprised of only hemp fibre and a natural backing. Ideal for microgreens, sprouts, wheatgrass and other short rotation crops, The Terrafibre™ Hemp Grow Mats provide a cleaner and easier production method than traditional soil growing. Industrial hemp fibres are separated, cleaned and needle punched to produce a 100% biodegradable soilless growing medium. Fibres are separated through a decortication process without the use of any chemicals and our production technique creates a light texture for roots to easily grow into. Hemp fibres have high water retention, keeping seeds wet through germination.
With a variety of different sizes such as 5” x 5”, 10” x 20” and 10” x 120’ rolls, the Terrafibre™ Hemp Grow Mat is designed to be less labour intensive than using soil. The clean and easy mat helps eradicate mess and allows growers to either sell their microgreens live on the mat, or harvest dirt-free.
Future Of Hemp Fibre Industry
Alberta has been a leader in the development of the hemp fibre industry. It has assisted in the development of companies like BCG. With the recent changes in hemp regulations in Canada and the US, the industry is poised for major growth. The introduction of CBD’s has the potential to create even greater volumes of waste stems. Developing a new industry will take a cooperative effort of farmers, entrepreneurs, all levels of Government, financial institutions and investors. BCG is proud of its role in developing this new industry and looks forward to a positive future.
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