After being awarded a $9.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), the city of Decatur, Ill., will plant 2,000 acres of industrial hemp to improve water quality and remediate soil as part of its water quality improvement plan.
The grant from RCPP “seeks to reduce sediment and nitrates in the Mississippi River Basin Critical Conservation Area, including Lake Decatur watershed. The program aims to reduce up to 50% of the sediment and 20% of the nitrate nitrogen annually flowing into Lake Decatur, which costs the city tens of millions of dollars to dredge every few years,” according to a press release.
The five-year, climate-smart hemp pilot project will consist of planting fiber industrial hemp seeds—donated from TigerFiber, a hemp processing company in Missouri—within targeted sub watersheds and land parcels, according to the release.
“We want to plant this hemp in areas where it can be seen from the road by farmers driving past,” said James Forbes, TigerFiber COO and co-founder.
The project will also receive technical assistance, cash and in-kind partner donations from the National Hemp Association (NHA) and Hemp Innovations Foundation. In addition, the NHA is working alongside the City of Decatur and the Illinois Hemp Growers Association (IHGA) to develop the project.
The NHA said in a press release the project will “accelerate the hemp industry in Illinois and demonstrate the positive environmental and economic benefits.”