Anyone with a green thumb knows you need to get your thumbs brown to grow healthy plants. Soil is the lifegiver of plants and, whether you’re a farmer or a backyard gardener, getting your soil right will set your plants up for success.
Hemp is no different from any other plant. It needs the right nutrients and soil conditions to grow well. You may have heard that it is an easy crop to grow and requires little input. Sure, you can adopt this attitude, and yes the plants will grow, but they will not reach their full potential. Understanding what the plant needs and the current state of your soil will help you decide which inputs will set your crop up for success. Here are a few tips to help your hemp crop thrive.
Choose the right location
Start right by choosing a location that has free-draining, loamy soil with access to irrigation or good subsoil moisture throughout the season. Avoid heavy clays and areas prone to waterlogging as hemp hates wet feet.
Get a soil test
How will you know what to put in if you don’t know what’s already there? Get a soil test for every plot you plan to grow in and ask an agronomist to help you understand the results, identify limiting nutrients, and create an input schedule.
Get your pH right
Hemp requires a neutral pH and performs best within the range of 6 – 7.5. Most Western Australian soils are acidic so liming will be necessary.
Hemp doesn’t perform well in compacted soil so its recommended to deep rip compacted areas before seeding.
Feed soil microbes
Organic matter is a must for healthy soils as it feeds soil microbes. Microbes decompose dead plant matter, returning even more organic matter (which is largely carbon based) to the soil. This forms the basis of regenerative agriculture, which aims to capture carbon in soil and above ground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation. Adding nitrogen via legumes and compost will benefit your soils so much more than synthetic fertilisers!
Healthy soil is a vital part of profitable and sustainable farming. Like us, plants need the right nourishment to grow well and fight off disease. Get your soil right and you will set your crop and yourself up for success.