Cian Walsh, a transition year student at St Brogan’s College, Bandon, Co Cork, has been announced the winner of the Teagasc award at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition 2021 (BTYSTE).

Cian’s project ‘Hemp for a Sustainable Future?’ looked at the social, economic, and environmental benefits and drawbacks of growing hemp, to determine if it can promote sustainable farming in Ireland.

Hemp is a variety of cannabis often confused with marijuana, which contains the same active ingredient but at much lower concentrations. It was among the first plants in the world to be spun into useable fibre.

Cian explains: “100% of the hemp crop can be processed into many different eco-friendly products - some examples include hempcrete, hemp insulation and hemp bioplastic.”

Cian’s research found only 36% of farmers would consider growing hemp.

He said there were benefits for farmers from growing hemp, but Government investment was needed to grow the industry.

Barry Caslin, Teagasc’s energy and rural development specialist, complimented Cian’s work saying: “There has been a huge interest from farmers and industry representatives in developing a hemp industry in Ireland.

“Hemp is an excellent break crop, bringing other benefits to crop rotation including higher yields in following wheat crops.”

The Teagasc award at BTYSTE is presented to the project that best demonstrates a thorough understanding of the science of agricultural or food production, or the use of science to improve technologies available to agricultural or food production.

Cian’s presentation can be viewed here.

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