Hemp grower spruiks a revolutionary industry

Hunter Valley farmer Bob Doyle and his bumper hemp crop which he says has a huge future. Mr Doyle will make a presentation at the upcoming Byron Bioenergy Conference. Photo by Stuart Scott, The Maitland Mercury

Hunter Valley farmer Bob Doyle and his bumper hemp crop which he says has a huge future. Mr Doyle will make a presentation at the upcoming Byron Bioenergy Conference. Photo by Stuart Scott, The Maitland Mercury

A Hunter Valley grazier and well-known industrial hemp grower will address next week’s Byron Bioenergy Conference, to update northern rivers farmers on the fledgling hemp industry, describing hemp as ‘almost the perfect crop’.

But he says large-scale hemp-fibre processing is still some time off with a lack of large-scale processing plant.

Bob Doyle, a sixth generation beef farmer from the Paterson Valley near Dungog, says industrial hemp, a relative of the illegal cannabis plant, doesn’t need pesticides, is water-efficient and can be grown in rotation with lucerne as a break crop.

Mr Doyle’s 30-hectare hemp farm in Vacy is one of several industrial hemp plantations grown legally in NSW as an alternative to traditional crops such as lucerne and maize.

The hemp industry was legalised in NSW in 2008, giving farmers a chance to sustainably boost their profits.

Mr Doyle reckons the potential across Australia is ‘huge’, but the main thing holding the fibre-products side of the industry back on the north coast and elsewhere is the lack of a fibre processing plant.

However, growing hemp for seed for the hemp-food industry and small-scale fibre processing for alternative building material would be viable on the northern rivers.

‘The focus in the short term on the north coast is for growing hemp for grain, and there will be an opportunity for some fibre processing for hurd for hemp masonry products,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘Large-scale fibre-processing mills are still a few years away.’

He said that even trial hemp crops in Victoria were hampered by the lack of such machinery and farmers there ‘have had to put it in storage for future use’.

‘There is no large-scale processing in Australia at the moment, but plenty of people trying.

‘What is needed across the board is a co-ordinated approach, and to this end, a new national alliance of industrial hemp growers is being formed to do this.’

Mr Doyle said industrial hemp could also be used as a waste product for biochar production.

A couple of farmers in the Dungog area have licences to grow industrial hemp from the state government.

Mr Doyle is part of a group developing an industrial hemp processing mill at Dungog.

‘Last season, we were a part of the largest grower group growing fibre in Australia and his presentation at the Byron Bioenergy Conference at Tyagarah on September 12 is eagerly awaited by locals keen to see the industry get a foothold on the north coast.

As the managing director of Hemp International Australia, he is keen to get the word out about the crop, but he says the issue needs ‘a bit of crank-up momentum’ in terms of processing the hemp fibre.

Mr Doyle was a dairy farmer until 2006, but now concentrates on running beef cattle and growing industrial hemp. He has also been actively involved in Landcare since 1990.

His company, Doyle Rural Services, have contracts spreading biosolids and managing Hunter Water effluent reuse farms

Around the world, the hemp plants’ long, straight stems are used to produce a range of fibre-based products, from a base for skin-care products, paper products, textiles, paints, load-bearing masonry for building, insulation and as an additive to wool in soft-textured durable yarns.

As a natural fibre, hemp has many benefits which has generated a lot of interest around the nation and worldwide.

More recently Mr Doyle and other hemp farmers bought a Dungog timber mill which they are converting into a hemp-processing facility aiming to produce hurd for the hemp masonry industry.

Hemp fibre products can be used as a replacement for bricks and concrete in walls, with its high insulation properties.

‘Hemp is a crop that has to well managed to optimise the benefits. It isn’t as easy to grow as often has been promoted,’ he said.

Mr Doyle will talk about how to slowly develop a viable hemp industry, in any number of regions across Australia.

Biochar movie

Meanwhile, a couple of Tweed Valley biochar enthusiasts who have produced a film about a sustainable timber plantation will premier the film at the Byron Bioenergy Conference.

Dolph Cooke and Gillian Tubbs, from Biochar Project Australia in Kunghur in the Tweed Valley, made the film ‘Avachar – The Movie’, about their journey on the flailing plantation.

A conference organiser said the couple’s ‘grassroots style of living, making biochar and teaching others has changed things forever’.

The film will be screened from 6-8pm on Saturday, September 12, including an Introduction and Q & A session afterwards.

Dolph Cook at home with his biochar kiln.

Dolph Cook at home with his biochar kiln.

For further information on the conference on Saturday and Sunday, September 12-13, visit


2 responses to “Hemp grower spruiks a revolutionary industry”

  1. Jerry Cook says:

    This plant is also very nutritious as a food and can even be used medicinally, although it should be kept separate to the other medicinal varieties.
    The uses of hemp are broad, and it should be in wide use for everyone’s benefit. Hemp is a sativa variety called ruderalis, and there are the other sativa varieties, and the indica variety. Out of that there is now a large variety of sub strains, specific for different uses. It is getting very sophisticated overseas. We are many years behind here.

    Henry Ford started to build car bodies from it and wanted to use the plant as fuel as well, but opposing profits with more cash and political influence then shut him down.
    In fact, this is the reason, along with racism, the plant was banned in the first place.

    At first the opposition was Randolph Hearst & big oil/Dupont who wanted no competition to their wood pulp or Dupont’s new plastic fibres, orlon, rayon & nylon.
    As soon as bought off & racist politician JD Anslinger, working with Hearst, Dupont & the Mellon bank, got a world wide USA based ban on the plant, Dupont came out with their plastic oil based fibres in days..

    Now opposition profits include big pharma, profit prisons, police & judicial systems except LEAP, law enforcement against prohibition, cartels/banks, alcohol & tobacco, along with other fibre makers. The current prohibition is ridiculous and inflicts suffering & death on people for those opposition profits, along with denial of broad efficient use.
    The prohibition law is the crime, supported by ignorant & bought off politicians or the public, but at least that is changing now world wide.
    Hemp is valuable in many ways, and we can hope the current hemp farmers get more support, along with medicinal or positive use for other researched and proven varieties. There are now over 20,000 research studies done on this plant, and our govt does not have to start from scratch to show good uses & benefits.

    The current law is a flat out lie for those opposition profits, which also inhibits the hemp variety uses.
    There should be no stigma or difficulty in law at all for any variety.

    It should not be a police problem at all..if anything it is a health issue only and should be treated as such.

    We note the police do not test for any driving impairment in a traffic stop..just use..and this is the only country on planet that does that, as stupid as. It has been shown to actually cause better driving by even insurance co’s, and it is very different to booze. Besides, the ruderalis hemp variety has no psychic effect anyhow. The law is plain crazy and unjust with use of this plant.

  2. Adam Perry says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for this very informative article. I am currently an undergrad student in Maine of United States and i would really like to get involved in this hemp movement, please contact me at [email protected]

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