Reclaiming land with cannabis: what are the prospects for the future?

Cannabis to reclaim territories

The potential of hemp for soil remediation between the present and future

The wild industrialisation carried out in some areas of our country has caused irreparable damage to the environment and has transformed large expanses of land into veritable deposits of toxic substances.

The bill to be paid for these past mistakes is heavy, both from the point of view of our health and that of the land and from the point of view of the cost of restoration work, which must be carried out to resolve this scourge.

Fortunately, we have a valuable ally in soil remediation: cannabis.

Seriously, this plant of a thousand uses can even be used to clean up the soil and can help us repair the damage caused by industrial contaminants.

In this article, I’ll explain how hemp can do this and which are the most crucial remediation projects that have been initiated using it.

Land reclaimed with hemp

Here’s how hemp can ‘clean’ soil of harmful substances

Since the 1950s, it has been discovered that certain plant species can absorb harmful substances such as lead and zinc from contaminated soil or water. These elements are captured by the roots and deposited in the leaves, stored until they fall off.

This discovery has been exploited to remediation of polluted soils by developing a natural remediation technique known as ‘phytoremediation’, which can also be applied to extract certain minerals from the soil at a low cost (phytoextraction). For example, nickel is a metal widely used in various sectors, which can only be extracted using very expensive mining techniques.

To cut costs, however, it is possible to plant certain plant species in nickel-rich soils so that they absorb the element and store it in their leaves. The plants can then be harvested and burned to produce nickel ash, which is exceptionally economical to extract and clears the soil of the contaminant.

Hemp is one of the most effective plant species for phytoremediation and has even been used to clean up radioactive particles from some of the soil around the Chernobyl plant!

As we explained in the introduction, the problem of soil pollution does not only concern places as far away from our country as Ukraine, but also This scourge afflicts Italy: think of the numerous cases of dioxin poisoning that occurred in the South of Italy about 15 years ago.

This is why some people have thought of solving this problem by turning to the potential of hemp.

Read also: Hemp ethanol: how it is produced and why it could become the fuel of the future

Saving the earth from dioxins: the case of an Apulian farmer

The case of a farmer in the province of Taranto who started an innovative project to save his land from pollutants using cannabis recently made the headlines.

In 2008, he was forced to slaughter hundreds of sheep because high concentrations of dioxin were found to have been absorbed by the poor animals after ingesting plants growing on soil contaminated by the nearby Ilva industrial site.

Despite the heavy blow, the man did not give up. Instead, thanks to the suggestions of the CanaPuglia association, he decided to reconvert his land and make it available for a phytoremediation project using cannabis.

It will still take some time before we have the results that will clarify the effectiveness of this experiment, but there seems to be a good chance that this part of Italy, scourged by decades of pollution, can be recovered thanks to our dear old hemp.

Land preparation for reclamation with hemp in Sardinia

From Apulia to Sardinia: the prospects of cannabis remediation

Sardinia is another region where unregulated industrialisation has caused severe damage to the environment, particularly in Sulcis Iglesiente, where mines, refineries and many other activities have ruined hectares upon hectares of uncontaminated land.

To remedy this terrible situation, in 2015, the region of Sardinia promoted the CANOPAES project, an ambitious plan financed with public funds that aim to start experimenting with phytoremediation using cannabis to continue research into the potential of this plant and decontaminate Sardinian soils.

The main doubts about the project are related to the disposal of the contaminated plant material that will inevitably accumulate during the remediation process. Still, an exciting solution has been proposed: harvesting cannabis plants saturated with pollutants and using them for the production of biodiesel and industrial oils.

Read also: Bediol: what you need to know about this medical cannabis strain

In conclusion

We have explained how hemp is able to cleanse soils of contaminants and how this property is beginning to be exploited to reclaim soil in particularly polluted locations.

Once again, science reveals new potentials for cannabis, a plant that never ceases to amaze us.

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