The Agronomy of Hemp and Its Uses in Forage-Animal Agriculture

Grants and Contracts Details


The resurgence of industrial hemp in American agriculture represents both opportunity and risk. The project addresses important agronomic questions, challenges to productivity and exploratory work for novel livestock markets. Work will be carried out under the two broad objectives as stated in Objective. The Cooperator has nine Ph.D. level scientists (investigators) and their affiliate teams poised to complete the work. The Cooperator investigators are appropriately licensed to grow and possess hemp and its constituents. Agronomic experiments will be conducted on the Cooperator research farms. Plant pathological surveys will be carried out on both the research farm and producer farms. All animal-related research will be conducted in vitro or ex vivo due to the current status of hemp as a prohibited feed component. The subobjectives are as follows: • Investigate the role of seed quality/vigor and their interaction with soil, environmental and management factors in crop emergence and establishment. • Identify economically significant insect pests and develop best management practices for control, including the use of targeted crop protection agents. • Evaluate cultivars best suited for use in a transition zone and identify key cultivar characteristics for further improvement. • Investigate fertility and irrigation requirements for hemp. • Develop protocol for surveying and sampling hemp fields for presence of fungal, bacterial, water mold, nematode, and viral pathogens. • Develop protocol for identification and quantification of pathogens in symptomatic and asymptomatic hemp, including confirmation of taxonomic identification by molecular methods. • Conduct a combined metagenomic and chemical analysis of retting hemp • Determine feed value and nutritional components in hemp forage, grain, and by-products such as extracted floral material and seed cake. • Investigate the potential metabolic impacts of cannabinoids, terpenes, and isoflavones found in hemp on livestock. • Evaluate plant cell wall structure of hemp seed and its transformation during ex vivo rumen fermentation. • Evaluate the potential for biologically active compounds naturally found in hemp to be introduced into the human food chain through animal production systems. Accomplishing these objectives will address gaps in knowledge on factors that impact hemp production efficiencies and the quality of harvested materials, as well as provide a foundation for evaluating the suitability of hemp as an animal feed. Publications, presentations and stakeholder outreach will result from these activities. Other deliverables include: • Data on cultivar performance in response to production variables that will contribute to modeling efforts and best management practices • Data on the prevalence of insect pests and diseases associated with hemp under different cultivation systems and a potential new monitoring method for early detection of economically important disease • Identification of genes involved in sex determination in hemp and that contribute to microbial retting • Data on nutritive and metabolic properties important for regulatory evaluation of hemp and hemp byproducts as animal feed
Effective start/end date8/1/217/31/24


  • Agricultural Research Service


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