Growing long-fibre hemp: a survey of farmers

To gain a better understanding of the realities of hemp textile growing, the partners in the Hemp4Circularity project are going out to meet farmers. In France, Lin et Chanvre Bio is conducting a survey of hemp-growing farmers in Normandy and Hauts de France.

A multinational survey

The Hemp4Circularity project aims to integrate long-fibre hemp into the textile value chain in North-West Europe.

Gathering data from the field is a key challenge if we want to gain a better understanding of hemp's cultivation itinerary. Alongside the survey being conducted by Lin et Chanvre Bio in France, Valbiom, Hogent and Inagro are gathering the same data in Belgium, and Delphy in the Netherlands. All this information will be used to analyse the climatic, technical and economic data surrounding the cultivation of textile hemp in North-West Europe.

Gathering data from the field

The survey carried out by Lin et Chanvre Bio focuses on the soil characteristics of the farm plot, the rotation in which the textile hemp crop is grown and the technical itinerary.

The information requested from farmers includes details of tillage practices prior to sowing and the density of hemp plants two to three weeks after sowing, in order to assess the success of emergence. The survey also looks at the pressure exerted by crows and pigeons, which may be attracted by the seeds and young seedlings. It also explores the presence and density of weeds in the plot, and the duration and quality of retting.

The dates of all operations, such as sowing, mowing and rolling, are recorded. A crucial external parameter, rainfall between May and July, from sowing to mowing, is taken into account in the questionnaire due to its significant impact on the final yield, both in terms of quantity and quality.

All this data is then processed through in-depth statistical analysis and summarised by the University of Hogent.

A growing crop

The survey carried out in 2023 was based on data from the 2022 harvest, and involved 20 hemp growers, representing a cultivated area of 66 ha.

Although the survey for the 2023 harvest is already underway, it is expected to attract more respondents, reflecting the sharp increase in the area given over to hemp for textiles in France. The data should therefore be richer and more meaningful.

Supporting this growth

The aim of this vast collection of information is to improve our knowledge of textile hemp. The aim is to be able to inform and guide new growers on the best way to cultivate fibre hemp, and to identify the mistakes to avoid, based on the experience of dozens of growers.

Finally, as well as providing support to farmers wishing to include hemp in their rotation, the data from this survey will also be used to contribute to the calculation of the PEF score (or 'Product Environment Footprint' score) for long-fibre textile hemp, in order to gain a better understanding of its impact on the environment.

Ultimately, the survey organised as part of the Hemp4Circularity project will help to shed valuable light on the reality of hemp textile growing process, an essential step in the development of the value chain in North-West Europe.

Interested in the project?

Are you involved in hemp processing? Or are you very interested in its potential in the textile value chain? Then get in touch!

The coming months will see a host of activities focusing on long-fibre hemp. The next training session for farmers will take place in winter 2024. Workshops and conferences will be organised for students and textile brands, while a training course will enable people to become ambassadors for long-fibre hemp.

Contact : communication@valbiom.be 

Follow-up of ‘long fibre’ hemp trials in 4 countries thanks to the Interreg Hemp4Circularity