Hot Springs Hemp – a Growing Industry

Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star

Cuno Hansen, President HG2 Industries spoke about sustainable building with hempcrete homes on the horizon in Hot Springs.

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By Charity Maness

HOT SPRINGS – Hemp farmers and those interested in the hemp industry gathered at the Mueller Center last Monday, Dec. 19, for a three-hour presentation on hemp; its sustainability and profitability.

The Industrial Hemp Growers Meeting was hosted by the Noah Alliance Foundation, a Hot Springs organization aimed at promoting sustainability utilizing hemp as a catalyst, HG2 Industries, a construction company focused on use of hemp products such as hempcrete (a combination of hemp curd cellulose, lime and water) and South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association.

According to Cuno Hansen, President HG2 Industries and founder of Noah nonprofit, hemp has received a bad name due to the CBD rage clarifying that his company’s interest rests in the fiber aspect of the plant, “the fiber industry is a totally different focus.”

Hansen began the presentation by setting the stage with a comprehensive walk through the process of growing hemp; from seed to market.

Hansen has been devoted to the growth of the industry since 2015, studying all aspects of the field from genetics to farming, product manufacturing to market sales and everything in between.

“There are three parts to the hemp plant with a dual crop focus,” said Hansen. “The seed produces the oils and the stalk produces the fiber and the hurd cellulose which can create up to 50,000 products in various industries.”

Hansen’s personal focus is the production and use of hempcrete, with his first repurposed steel and hempcrete homes set to begin construction in the spring of 2023 in Hot Springs.

A few of the additional products that can be produced from hemp were displayed on tables as attendees entered the Mueller Center.

“The material is so soft,” said attendee Dale Etzel of a 100% hemp fiber t-shirt on display. “It’s incredible. I want to know more.”

While the products are enticing the actual planning can be daunting.

“We have a pasture we aren’t using and I thought this would be a good way to find out about the process,” said Brenda Puskarich of Hot Springs.

This is where Noah shines as they are there to help.

“We will begin holding workshops in 2023 to aide people interested in seed to harvest and beyond,” said Shauna Hansen, CEO HG2 Industries, member of NOAH. “We are here to help farmers through the whole process.” Adding, “We have the models for all processing, bio fuel, textile, feed, and more.”

The united team of sustainability organizations has upped the ante from last year. 

During last year’s harvest they provided mobile decordicators to farms West River to help with the production process. This year they have much bigger plans as Hot Springs will be the West River hub for the South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association.

“I am in possession of processing equipment to process hemp for the seed and by products; proteins used by multiple species,” said guest speaker and Ruminant Nutritionist Roger Weigel. “The only hurdle is finding a suitable space.” The equipment would require a minimum 3000 square foot building with a cement floor.

“Our goal is to have a sustainable business park,” said Tammy Ackerman, President Noah Foundation Alliance, “with a full hempcrete operation creating industry and jobs in Hot Springs.” 

With the recent acquisition of property known locally as ‘the old drive-in’ on 385, the dream of an industrial park may become a reality soon.

The main products that will be manufactured from South Dakota’s hemp crops in the near future will be hempcrete for home construction; animal bedding; and insulation material.  Future uses being developed include a range of products such as animal feed, textiles, batteries, bioplastics, bio-diesel and concrete reinforcement.

As for the feed side of the production, currently South Dakota does not recognize hemp animal feed, however, Montana does.

“It is ironic,” said Weigel, “that people can use products from hemp.” Further stating that as a group they will work to educate not only the government but the community as well, to the health potential for herds as well as the possible economic benefits.

“The nutrition of animals is a moving target,” said Weigel, “genetics, region, age, weather” all play a role in the health and well being of an animal.

However, Weigel also pointed to the economic crunch placed on farmers lately with the ever rising cost of feed being a large issue for many ranches, affecting the smallest to the largest productions.

“It comes down to economics and efficiency,” said Weigel. “The cost of feed is impacting our food supply. Even the honey bee industry is looking toward hemp. We need to do our due diligence and revive a WWII crop.”

While hemp production can be traced back to 4000 BC, in America it can be traced back to our first President. According to Mount Vernon.org George Washington cultivated hemp at Mount Vernon for its industrial properties using it for sails, ropes and more.

By WWI farmers were urged to grow hemp to provide fiber and fuel for soldiers. In 1928 it was outlawed as it was grouped with its psychoactive cousin yet revived once again for the war effort in 1942. The hemp roller coaster ride continued into the next century finally seeing a resurgence as a viable crop economically and ecologically in the early 2000s.

Hemp is a short season crop, on average 100 days from planting to harvest and requires half as much precipitation as corn.  

While the lowest acreage that can legally be planted with hemp is ½ acre, the advised acreage based on profitability is 20 acres or more with each acre producing approximately 10,000 pounds of hemp per acre currently averaging $210.00 a ton at sale with buyers already offering contracts to buy bales for the 2023 season.

If you would like more information on west river hemp production or would be interested in a presentation for your group visit sd-hemp.com. 

Fall River County Herald Star

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