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IHASA Newsletter
May 2024

AIHC Industrial Hemp Conference

The AIHC conference was held this year in the Hunter Valley. This was the 4th of the bienniel hemp conferences organised by Robert Bell.

The 2024 Australian Industrial Hemp Conference was a fantastic opportunity for the industry as a whole to converge on a single venue and share our collective progress, thoughts, and ideas, over the past 2 years.
Of particular interest to myself, and the University of Adelaide Industrial Hemp breeding program, were the presentations on current breeding achievements, specific stakeholder requirements and desires for variety traits, along with where the industry is shifting focus.
There has been a noticeable shift in a desire to increase hemp fibre production within the Australian industry. With this, comes an opportunity to further research hemp-based construction materials, and the increased use of natural fibres such as hemp, as a responsible way to help meet several emission reduction targets set by the Federal Government. This research, along with the commercial opportunities the outcomes create, could generate significant revenue for any company willing to invest and follow through.
Unfortunately, as an industry, we are still facing significant issues with choice of varieties, and reliable seed for sowing. Most Australian farmers are using imported seed with very low germination rates, and only very limited on-shore production of good quality, high germination seed. This is a problem the University of Adelaide Industrial Hemp breeding program hopes to resolve over the following years by releasing a series of cultivars bred specifically for Australian conditions and bulked on Australian farms.
It was also a fantastic opportunity to network with other members of the Australian industrial hemp industry. Many of us work together on various projects, but very rarely do we get an opportunity to all come together under the same roof to talk hemp. Maybe in the future, one of our following conferences will be held in a space made entirely out of Industrial hemp. The way the Australian industry is progressing, I don’t think that is too far away!”

Ben McGorm (Head Breeder – Industrial Hemp)

A full conference report from Agrifutures, a main sponsor of the event will be available shortly.

Jan Slaski from Canada has attended all four AIHC conferences (photo courtesy of Kieren Anderson – AHC media)

We have a new flyer to promote IHASA.
Please contact us if you are able to distribute any copies through your business or networks.
You can also click on the image to download a pdf version.

Member Profile

Mark Catalano

Experienced Director with a demonstrated history in the Construction, Utility & Development Industries.

Tell us about Alano Utilities and your role?
Alano Utilities is a 100% South Australian privately owned water utility, focusing on providing custom community solutions primarily in providing wastewater services. I am one of the Directors of Alano, and my primary role is Business Development.

What got you interested in hemp?
Believe it or not, finding sustainable long-term solutions for the recycled water produced by wastewater treatment plants is a real challenge. At Alano we are continuously looking for sustainable solutions including those in the agricultural sector. Hemp potentially provides a sustainable crop to work in with our sustainability goals.

When did you start your hemp journey?
It has been some years since we have been watching the industry and researching the ability to irrigate recycled water from treatment plants.

What’s the best thing about hemp?
Hemp appears to have a really unique ability to accept recycled water. The Hemp product itself has so many environmental benefits, it ticks our sustainability goals.

What’s the worst thing about hemp?
Unfortunately, perceptions are a challenge. The stigma associated with the crop makes it a challenge to work with the established water industry.

How do you see yourself best contributing to the hemp industry?
There is a real opportunity with what we are doing at Alano, including working with industry partners in the hemp industry, to help prove that hemp can be an integral part of water sustainability in Australia.

Around the paddocks

The momentum around the hemp industry in South Australia is really picking up, and more people are becoming involved and getting busy moving the hemp industry forward. This is great to see.

An exciting development has been more hemp fibre crops grown in various parts of the state including the South East, Riverland and the Adelaide Hills. There are two hemp fibre processing factories becoming established in SA – one at Monarto (Vircura) which has been operating for around 12 months now, and the other near Coonawarra (South Fibre) which is still under construction. Both these companies have been growing fibre-specific hemp crops to decorticate in their new facilities and supply hurd and bast fibre from the hemp stems to emerging markets for building materials and other hemp products. One farmer in the South East grew a very successful high-yielding fibre crop without knowing where the crop would be sold, and half of the bales from the paddock have been sold just weeks after harvest. The demand for hemp is growing!

Hemp crops grown for hemp food production have all been harvested in March with excellent results, showing that variety selection for SA regions is sorted, and we’re becoming much better at growing the stuff! Top yield was 1.8 tonnes per hectare, with another first-time hemp grower achieving 1.4 tonnes per hectare – a fantastic result considering that 5 years ago first-time hemp growers in SA were struggling to get over 0.8 tonnes per hectare!

The National Hemp Variety Trials took place for the final year in 2023/24 with 2 SA sites – Loxton and Maaoupe. These trials have been valuable to see which hemp fibre and grain varieties grow best in these locations, and which ones give the best yields and economic benefit. There are dozens of varieties of hemp from all over the world – from arid zones and countries with permafrost – some work in SA and some don’t. It’s been a great project over 5 years, funded by Agrifutures. Next year another funded project will run looking at things like fertilizer inputs and irrigation scheduling to get the best results for farmers.

A new national project is taking shape to look at growing hemp during the winter without using irrigation. Think of Canola and the bright yellow paddocks in spring throughout the countryside. Imagine if hemp could take the place of Canola and provide a richer and more nutritious food source! (We know hemp seed oil is nutritionally far superior than canola oil). Hemp is currently a summer irrigated crop and we’re looking at finding hemp varieties and new farming methods to grow it during winter like regular cereal crops. This will open up opportunities for more farmers to grow hemp everywhere, and for hemp to become a mainstream crop which is our ultimate goal. Adelaide University is working on finding some “auto flowering” hemp varieties from overseas to sow at various SA locations in July/August and harvest in October/November. Fingers crossed for a good season.

A group of school children in the field.
Until next time…

Heaven~Lee Hemp based in Willunga has a special offer for our readers. All purchases over $100 will be eligible for a 10% discount when you use the code “WelcomeIHASA”. You can purchase online and of course in store to meet Lee in person when you visit Willunga.
Note this offer is available to the end of June only.

Hemp recipe – Hemp Crepes

Hemp Pesto


  • 125g Pine nuts
  • 50g Hulled hemp seed
  • 100g Fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Large cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp Hemp seed oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Pinch salt and oregano to taste.


Add all ingredients except salt and oil to a blender.

Process until you have a crunchy paste. Over mixing will result in more of a liquid than a paste.

Add pinch of salt. Add oil slowly. Serve.