University of Florida's Industrial Hemp Pilot Project
Hemp is a new crop that has certainly caught the attention of both producers and consumers. Researchers at the University of Florida are bringing science to the conversation to develop a viable hemp industry in the state. Dr. Zack Brym is an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy. He says the Industrial Hemp Pilot Project set out with three primary objectives.
Brym… “The first: looking at the genetics, screening varieties, just giving us a chance to see what's out there and how it performs in the various environments of Florida. The second was to start designing these cropping systems. All of those critical details that farmers need to know: what's the spacing of the plants? How do we fertilize? How do we irrigate? What are all the other sorts of problems that we're going to face? And ultimately at the end of the day, how are we going to make money doing this?”
Dr. Brym is an agroecologist who works at the Tropical Research Center in Homestead Florida, so he’s also interested in how introducing a new crop might impact the overall ecology.
Brym… “The third objective is somewhat unique to Florida. That is the potential of hemp escaping cultivation and the risk of it invading our natural areas; how it might perform outside of cultivation and what impacts that might have on the other side of the fence.”