For Tuesday 19 May 2020 provided by Ecoprofit.com.au (#letsfindsolutions)
News for green investors and organisations, stock watch & grant opportunities
Cannabis ? Its Benefits and Future (Part 1)
Back in my younger days I loved grass for the euphoric feelings it gave me after I sucked back another bong. Those free-spirited days have changed direction, but I haven?t lost my feelings for the green plant. It is such a versatile weed.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa), also known as industrial hemp, is a plant from the same family as cannabis: Cannabaceae. However, unlike cannabis, hemp has very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound in cannabis and therefore, it cannot get you high (schucks!).
Hemp is hailed by many as a ?wonder plant? thanks to its estimated 25,000 different uses! These include food, making fibres, ropes, textiles, and paper, as a building material, extracting an?oil with medicinal properties and countless more. From the roots to the seeds, stem, oil, and leaves, every single part of the hemp plant can be used.
It is thanks to hemp?s utility that it is thought to be one of the earliest plants ever to be cultivated, over 10,000 years ago. Since then, many thousands of varieties have been selectively bred to encourage specific features longer stems for spinning into fibres, a higher seed yield for consumption or oil production, and so on.
Hemp plants are usually tall and slender, with large quantities of thick, glossy leaves that grow off a central stem. Depending on the variety, hemp plants generally grow from one metre to 2.5 metres tall, though some varieties can reach as tall as 5 metres. The plants are annuals, meaning that they complete their whole life cycle, from seed to adult plant, within a single growing season. In fact, hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world, reaching maturity in just three to four months.
For much of the 20th century, hemp was not grown commercially. This was due to negative public perceptions of the plant, clouded by its relation to cannabis. However, in recent years, the laws surrounding hemp cultivation are being reassessed, and many people are rediscovering the all-round positive effects that hemp can have ? not only for people but also for the environment.
Almost all varieties of hemp are naturally resistant to insect pests and predators. Not only does this mean that harmful chemical pesticides, which can leach into the soil and waterways, need not be used, but also, hemp plantations can become havens for pollinators (bees love it) as well as small birds and animals.
Due to its quick growth rate, hemp makes an excellent ground cover crop. These are plants that are grown in between other crops to cover the ground rapidly, leaving no room for other weeds. This reduces the need for harmful herbicides and weed killers, which again can contaminate the surrounding environment. What?s more, while most cover crops are not valuable in themselves, hemp can be a ?win-win? crop for farmers, thanks to its high market value.
For millennia, farmers all over the world would rotate the crops that they planted in order to allow the soil to replenish and to avoid draining it of nutrients. However, in the age of powerful artificial fertilizers, this practice has diminished in favour of monoculture or growing the same, high-value crop, year after year. In recent years though, more and more farmers are looking back to the crop rotation model thanks to its reduced environmental impact.
Hemp is an important plant for crop rotation for a number of reasons. Firstly, despite it being an annual crop, hemp?s roots reach deep down into the soil. This both helps to hold the soil together, reducing erosion, and to loosen the soil, allowing more delicate plants to grow afterward. Secondly, hemp produces high quantities of biomass (a matter which returns to the soil and decomposes, feeding nutrients back into the ground). For this reason, hemp is often grown in rotation with winter cereals, which require high-quality soil.
Another incredible potential use for hemp crops is bioremediation or using plants to decontaminate soil and water after industrial pollution or accidents. Hemp plants are able to grow in contaminated soil without any ill effects, absorbing the heavy metals and toxins into the plants themselves. Although studies are currently underway to assess potential applications for this property, hemp has already been used to good effect in tests in Chernobyl following the nuclear disaster there in 1986.
Hemp is a relatively hardy plant and needs far less water than many other industrial crops (i.e. like cotton). Similarly, it grows much faster than the trees which are used to make paper. By replacing common products with hemp alternatives, many scientists believe we will be able to move towards a more sustainable mode of production and consumption.
One of the most amazing properties of hemp plants, however, is its ability to pull huge quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. While most plants can do this as part of photosynthesis (turning it into glucose and oxygen), hemp, with its large amounts of lush foliage, works even harder. Scientists estimate that for every tonne of hemp grown, 1.63 tonnes of carbon dioxide are removed from the atmosphere. This is more than 4 to 10 times the amount trees or other plants of a similar size can sequester.
Ecoprofit is seeking to advance the propagation of the hemp industry in Australia. Here is a marvellous opportunity for our farmers to be part of a regenerative agriculture program that assists the environment and makes them a quid.
The world-leading producer of hemp is?China, which produces more than 70% of the world output.?France?ranks second with about a quarter of the world production. The rest of world?s production comes from over 30 countries produce industrial hemp. Let?s go Australia, especially in a post pandemic world!
Information on ways forward for the hemp industry will follow in subsequent Everlution Newsletters. Readers who bought into Australia?s Ecofibre (ASX:EOF) after our 17 April newsletter will be smiling right now, but it?s still not too late to get on it.
Grants/Subsidies/Funding ? R&D Tax Incentive (Part 3)
An example of a project that would comply with the R&D Incentive requirements:
DSC2U is a medium-sized Australian company that designs and produces dyesensitised solar cells (DSCs). The company is focused on continually improving the efficiency of its DSCs and has regularly undertaken activities to improve the performance of its products. The DSC2U R&D team identified an avenue of research to develop more efficient DSCs through extending the light harvesting region into the near infrared spectrum.
The team pitched their proposal to the DSC2U?s CEO and received approval to conduct some initial research to investigate the new idea. The company conducted literature reviews and consulted industry experts to identify if there were any existing methods to extend its DSCs into the near infrared region. This research concluded that there were no known methods to extend the light-harvesting region into the near infrared.
The R&D team submitted a business plan that included a plan to register for the R&D Tax Incentive, outlining the proposed R&D activities required to further develop the DSC which was subsequently approved by DSC2U?s CEO. The CEO had seen information from other companies benefiting from the R&D Tax Incentive and instructed staff to review the various factsheets on the business.gov.au website and familiarise themselves with the legislative requirements. With further guidance from the department?s Contact Centre6, DSC2U felt comfortable enough with the definitions to self-assess its R&D activities as being eligible for the R&D Tax Incentive.
This example illustrates the separation of core and supporting R&D activities and explores the dominant purpose requirement of supporting R&D activities. It also highlights the importance of record keeping.
Eco-tip for the day ? Embedded emissions in food (Part 1)
Today?s food supply chain creates 13.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), 26% of anthropogenic GHG emissions. A further 2.8 billion tonnes of CO2e (5%) are caused by non-food agriculture and other drivers of deforestation. Under current predominant farming methods, food production creates 32% of global terrestrial acidification and 78% of eutrophication. These emissions fundamentally alter the species composition of natural ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and ecological resilience.
The farm stage dominates, representing 61% of food?s GHG emissions (81% including deforestation), 79% of acidification, and 95% of eutrophication. Today?s agricultural system is also incredibly resource intensive, covering 43% of the world?s ice and desert-free land. Of this land, 87% is for food and 13% is for biofuels and textile crops or is allocated to non-food uses such as wool and leather.
It is estimated that two-thirds of freshwater withdrawals are for irrigation. However, irrigation returns less water to rivers and groundwater than industrial and municipal uses and predominates in water-scarce areas and times of the year, driving 90 to 95% of global scarcity-weighted water use.
A simple way to help the environment is to eat less meat and dairy which have an enormous environmental footprint. A recent analysis showed?that beef results in up to 105kg of greenhouse gases per 100g of protein, while tofu produces less than 3.5kg per 100g of protein.
your meat and dairy consumption is not just good for your carbon footprint, eating green has?a myriad of health benefits too.
It is estimated, reducing meat consumption in high income countries from 1.75kg per week to 450g per week (the?WHO recommendation) in 2050 would?avoid almost 20 Gigatonnes?of carbon dioxide per year.
Share watch ? Northern Minerals Ltd (NTU:ASX)
It has been said, Rare Earth Elements?(REEs) can be regarded as the “vitamins” required for the shift from a carbon-based economy to the new 21st century electron economy.
China has had ?world dominance in REE supply, but cracks in that market dominance are beginning to appear. Australia has recently emerged as a competitive supplier. From 2013 to 2018, Australia?s annual output of REEs exploded more than 1,600 percent, from around 1,000 tonnes to 19,000 tonnes.
A rising player in the market is Northern Minerals Ltd which is mining the much sought-after heavy rare earth elements (HREE), dysprosium and terbium. It has 100% ownership and marketing rights for all but three of the tenements covering the Browns Range Dome. The other three tenements are a Joint Venture with Toro Energy, where Northern Minerals is earning up to an 80% interest.
Since 2009, exploration by the Company has been focussed on the WA tenements, which has led to the discovery and completion of HRE Mineral Resource estimates at Wolverine, Gambit West, Gambit, Area 5, Cyclops and Banshee. All six of the current JORC compliant Mineral Resources remain open at depth and to varying degrees, along strike, indicating further potential to increase the current Mineral Resources. Additional drilling has only been limited by funding, with each deposit flagged for further drilling as a key strategy to increase the Browns Range Project?s mine life. In the March quarter, the miner sold 136 tonnes of HREE carbonate to ThyssenKrupp of Germany.
In my last newsletter, when referring to Arafura Resources I wrote ?The ten-year graph reflects high hopes that appear to have fallen away, but global circumstances have radically changed.? That same sentence could be applied to Northern Minerals in the context of its 10-year ASX trading history shown above.
The VIX fear gauge down 3.31 points since Friday EST to 29.30 and towards safe territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average up since last Friday EST by 972.03 points or 4.12% to 24,597.37, the STOXX 600 up 14.88 points or 4.55% to 326.71 and the Shanghai Composite index up 5.08 points or 0.18% to 2,875.42.
Gold down to 1,735.50. US 10-year Treasury Bonds up to 0.728 and oil up to 33.39. Cryptos bounced back with Bitcoin up 54.96 points since Friday or 0.57% to 9,707.85.
ASX 200 up 131.80 points or 2.47% from Friday to 5,460.50. The Aussie dollar up slightly to 65.21 US cents.
Eco Market Spot Prices
Sources:?RenewEconomy, demandmanager,? Reuters, SMH, Market Watch, greenglobaltravel