Arnab Bhowmik, Ph.D.

Several of the key guidelines for successful hemp production have been revealed, thanks to ongoing research by soil scientist Arnab Bhowmik, Ph.D., and his group in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design.

Bhowmik is currently leading a USDA NIFA Evans-Allen funded project on determining optimal growing conditions for hemp production in North Carolina. Through its research, Bhowmik’s group has contributed to the current understanding of best soil health management practices for growing hemp, and also identified future research needs for sustainable hemp production.

These findings have been published in the peer-reviewed article “A Review on the Current State of Knowledge of Growing Conditions, Agronomic Soil Health Practices and Utilities of Hemp in the United States,” which appears in a special issue of the journal Agriculture.

Although there is a renewed interest in the adoption of hemp due to an emerging market, its production in the United States remains limited partly because of unclear agronomic guidance and fertilization recommendations. Hemp is a multipurpose, high value crop that could be beneficial for small scale farmers if managed properly. Additionally, it has tremendous potential to enhance soil and environmental health.

“We have addressed these critical issues in our publication which will provide new hemp research directions for the scientific community”, Bhowmik said.

Once widely cultivated, hemp was declared illegal by anti-marijuana laws in the 1930s. The 2018 Farm Bill declassified hemp from the list of controlled substances and legalized its production as an agricultural commodity. Bhowmik’s research group has been working with the USDA to unravel the full potential of this crop. In the US, the amount of hemp acreage and licenses has increased rapidly in the last couple of years and it has become essential to explore and update the scientific knowledge of hemp and reestablish it as a commodity crop for our farmers.