New Biomass Product Lines: Biochar and Hemp
In the period from 25-26 April, 2013 N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry hosted an international workshop for scientists and specialists working on issues of industrial cultivations, processing and breeding of hemp in Baltic region countries. 35 participants represented countries traditionally cultivating and processing hemp – these are Russia, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Finland, Sweden and Estonia. Attendees discussed current status and future development of biomass processing in various high-tech areas as well as biochar production.
The workshop was to unite efforts of researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs in developing a comprehensive use of biomass, discovering unique opportunities and expansion of products such as fiber, vegetable oil obtained from seeds and essential oil produced from inflorescences, highly nutritious hemp seeds in historical cultivation areas of Baltic region countries.
Russia is widely known as a country traditionally cultivating and processing hemp. Publications of domestic scientists on developing non-drug cultivars are recognized worldwide. The meeting in Saint-Petersburg was to give a positive impulse to international cooperation, that was launched during the last workshop in Latvia, to let in Russian specialists in the framework of German-Russian scientific cooperation network, as well as to the multilateral cooperation system of Baltic countries region.
The workshop combined two sessions: presentations on biochar and hemp. Specialists have been discussing issues of vegetable fiber production in the region. In particular they stressed sharp decline in fibre flax (Linum usitatissimum) production in Europe. The European area under cultivation does not exceed 70 thousand hectares. At the same time France and Belgium sow about 60 thousand hectares; cultivation of flax is completely halted in Germany; virtually minimized or halted in Great Britain, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Portugal and Ukraine.
The discussion revealed that while wrongly relating hemp to vegetable drugs, in Europe it`s considered as one of the main industrial crops with a planting acreage as of 15 thousand hectares. Some lines of hemp processing were considered acute, economically valuable and recommended for introduction in Baltic region countries.
Given that participants of the workshop concluded to extensively develop breeding and genetic research of hemp, to collect, study, evaluate its genetic resources.