The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has awarded Heartland Industries, a biotech company that engineers hemp materials to be infused in plastics, a $360,000 three-year grant to develop its soil innovation program.
"The NRCS allocated $15 million to conservation partners across the country for 19 new projects under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, [which supports] the development of new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands," according to a press release.
Out of 77 applicants, Heartland's "Hemp4Soil" program was the only hemp program selected as a grant recipient.
The money will allow Heartland to partner with farming communities and expand research on regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration, the release states. Specifically, the Hemp4Soil program will investigate the impact of adding industrial hemp and regenerative farming practices on soil used to grow traditional crops like soy, wheat, and corn.
Heartland has already connected with farms across 10 states to work with, and the company can continue to expand its research program to other farms/farmers interested in participating.
As listed in the press release, Heartland will work with the select farms to "incorporate hemp into a soil health management system that has the potential to positively impact multiple aspects of soil biology including:"
- Reducing the need for herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides.
- Reducing the usage of water.
- Increasing the amount of carbon dioxide sequestered in the soil.
- Accelerating soil remediation by removing toxins from the soil.
- Increasing the nitrogen content of the soil.
- Naturally replenishing nutrients that are typically added into soil.
- Increasing the yields of other crops grown on the same acreage in the following years.
The data collected from the research program will help "lay the framework for Heartland's strategic ability to make a significant impact on the developing carbon markets."