From cultivation to extraction, the hemp industry requires highly specialized technology to flourish.
AMANDA LUKETAAmanda Luketa is a freelance technical writer and former cannabis industry mechanical engineer. She believes strongly in helping others, federal legalization, and the power of curiosity. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing and yoga.
With the passing of the Farm Bill, the hemp industry has seen a long-awaited boom in production and revenue. There are many uses for hemp, from textiles to products containing only CBD, with some companies even using hemp as a biomass energy source. The equipment for producing hemp products is complex and requires technology from various disciplines. Take a look at some of the specialized processing and farming equipment used within the hemp industry.
HEMP FARMING EQUIPMENT
There are many ways to grow hemp, with some methods being more sophisticated than others. Hemp farming requires substantial agricultural knowledge and research, as the exact equipment used will depend on the precise growing methodology.
Another critical factor in which equipment a farmer chooses is whether or not the hemp will be used for textiles or for CBD oil. If used for textiles, hemp can be planted at a much higher density – up to 400,000 plants per square acres – but if CBD production is the goal, the density drops substantially to a maximum of around 1,600 plants per acre.
This is because textile hemp is grown similarly to wheat, with tall stalks that are then used for industrial applications. CBD hemp, on the other hand, is cultivated to be small and leafy, staying lower to the ground, with the plant’s flowers used for oil production.
Here is some of the equipment involved in the hemp farming process:
A seed drill streamlines the process of sowing hemp seeds and can be used to plant many acres of the crop efficiently.
If not starting from seeds, a transplanter can be used to move a substantial quantity of early hemp plants into the field, placing them with the appropriate spacing and position.
Also used for harvesting wheat, a combine is used to cut and collect the hemp stalks and grain material. This equipment is typically used when harvesting textile-based hemp crops, as it is a rough process that would compromise the structure of the plant when used for CBD production.
CBD Hemp Harvester
Explicitly designed to harvest hemp used for CBD oil production, this harvester works differently than the combine. The CBD hemp harvester carefully cuts each hemp plant and loads it onto a trailer, without damaging the plant’s structure. A typical harvester processes up to 5 acres of CBD hemp per day, and can also be used for cannabis crops.
HEMP PROCESSING EQUIPMENT
The bulk of the processing requirements for hemp consist of decortication. Hemp decortication is the process of separating the hemp fiber from the plant stalk. Hemp is also processed into CBD oil by companies in the hemp extraction space. Take a look at the cutting-edge technology designed for hemp processing:
Continuous Countercurrent Reactor for Decortication
The Continuous Countercurrent Reactor (CCR), developed by PureHemp Technology out of Fort Lupton, CO, is designed to streamline the decortication process. The reactor works by passing hemp stalks through the machine in the opposite direction as a liquid reagent, to efficiently separate the hemp into pulp and sugar co-products.
The CCR can be used for efficient biomass production, as part of the effort to reduce the planet’s dependency on fossil fuels.
R-2 Decorticator System
Developed by CannaSystems, a Canada-based company serving the industrial hemp industry, the R-2 decorticator is designed to be a semi-portable turnkey solution for separating hemp. The unit is a hydraulic, diesel-powered system, and can process up to five tons of hemp per hour.
HempTrain for Consumer Products
This industrial powerhouse, developed by Canadian Greenfield, is designed to process and decorticate hemp into up to nine different products.
Applications for these products range from hemp-based kitty litter to hemp skin care products and potting mixes.
Precision KPD Series for Extraction
Designed to operate on an industrial scale, the Precision KPD extraction system can process over 25,000 pounds of hemp per day for manufacture into CBD oil. Features include a continuous feed system and compatibility with ethanol, heptane, or hexane as an extraction solvent.
GROWING HEMP IS A SCIENCE
Those considering entering the exciting space of hemp cultivation and processing must do thorough research before beginning an operation. Hemp is unique in that it draws from both conventional agricultural methods, as well as precise science from the cannabis industry. Growing hemp for CBD oil production may prove more of a challenge than for textiles, though both can provide a rewarding opportunity for the new or experienced farmer.