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Hemp tested for sewage treatment December 6, 2005 - stuff.co.nz
Feilding has its own crop of hemp which scientists are testing to check its anti-pollution powers for rivers.
Hemp looks like marijuana but has less than 100th of the hallucinogenic THC chemical in it than the illegal drug has.
Massey University horticulture lecturer Mike Nichols says the trial planting covering a fifth of a hectare is about 40 centimetres tall and masters student Randall Gibson has just begun taking samples from plants.
"Hemp is known to be a good absorber of nitrogen and phosphorous, both of which are river pollutants," Dr Nichols says.
The planting has been done in conjunction with the Feilding sewage treatment plant, which has treated waste going into the Oroua River.
The hemp is in "tertiary treated waste" which means it has gone through several treatments before being put on paddocks, Manawatu District Council waste manager Bill Smith says.
It's the hemp plant's rapid growth and use that makes it attractive as a trial crop.
"Hemp has many uses, including fibre for clothes or to make a tough material which can even be used as a replacement for some plastics in cars," Dr Nichols says.
He has a licence to grow the hemp and has told Feilding's police, as the crop looks like marijuana.
The cultivar being grown could grow to be more than 2 metres tall. Some plant types grow to 4 metres, Dr Nichols says.
"Although it's early days, the results look promising and hemp has a lot of potential as a crop which can take nutrients out before they reach water," Mr Gibson says.
The hemp crop is being grown at three planting densities and will be tested monthly to check absorption rates of phosphorus and nitrogen.