Green & Growth, in its aim to achieve more sustainable solutions and improvements, has several research projects underway, led by its scientific subsidiary Green Bionomics or by its Scientific Department.
To this end, Green & Growth and Green Bionomics rely on the establishment of synergies and collaboration agreements with public and private entities worldwide, in order to create new products, optimize existing ones and explore new and better ways to apply them in different sectors.
Fundamental for obtaining industrial hemp cultivars adapted to the agro-climatic regions where we work or adapted to the agro-climatic zones where the industries we work with are located, as well as obtaining cultivars that combine all the characteristics of composition and molecular disposition necessary to guarantee the quality of our products.
The great challenge of this century lies in finding solutions to feed a growing population and, at the same time, reduce the impact of the food system on the environment.
Entomophagy has recently gained much attention as a potential contributor to the future of the sustainable food system. About 1,500 species of edible insects have been identified worldwide. On a global scale, the most frequently consumed insects are: beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, cicadas, leafhoppers, grasshoppers, mealybugs, sowbugs, termites, dragonflies and flies.
Edible insects are mainly consumed whole, processed into granules or paste for other preparations, extracted from insect proteins or used in animal feed.
The main benefits of insects are related to the fact that they are a highly nutritious and healthy food source, high in fat, protein, vitamins, fiber, minerals and a sustainable source of animal protein.
As a source of animal protein, they do not have the same lack of certain essential amino acids that vegetable protein sources suffer from, so they can be the ideal additive to complete the amino acid profile of these rich sources of vegetable proteins, and can, as a whole, generate a very complete and sustainable food.
In fact, compared to other animal protein sources, insects require less water and space to grow and emit fewer greenhouse gases.
In addition, insects exhibit a much more efficient feed conversion ratio than traditional farm animals. For example, crickets are twice as efficient as chicken in converting feed to meat, at least four times as efficient as pigs and twelve times as efficient as cattle.
Insect farming could help address the challenge of food waste. Some insects can convert low-value products with a low ecological footprint (such as organic waste from agri-food industries) into high-protein products. Insect farming has the potential to reuse at least one third of the food waste generated today in the food chain.
During breeding and processing, they do not require the use of as many antibiotics and additives as traditional livestock farming. This drastically minimizes the problem of antibiotic resistance. In addition, due to their phylogenetic remoteness, they pose a lower risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases.
Finally, insect excrement, a by-product obtained from insect farming, can be used as a fertilizer, as can worm humus, for example, and, in fact, has recently been authorized by the European Commission.
Insect farming has a limited impact on natural resources and could be an efficient and circular animal protein production system.
Through the analysis of polymorphic regions (with high variability among individuals of the same species) of the DNA known as STRs (Short Tandem Repeats), it is possible to differentiate some hemp individuals from others, as well as to establish close kinship relationships between them.
This method of genetic identification, which allows us to differentiate between individuals, offers us the opportunity to have an infallible method of traceability, since all the plants in a field coming from seeds of known parents can be identified at any time of their cycle by this method.
Knowing the STRs profile of the parents, it is feasible to analyze a blend of CFL fibers, for example, to certify that they come entirely from the hemp plant and that, in addition, they are daughters of known parents. In this way, illegal deforestation can be combated and the homogeneity of materials, critical for the reproducibility of the quality of end products, can be confirmed.
Biocomposites, cement, asphalt, paper, cardboard...
The molecular composition, as well as the arrangement of these molecules within the product, directly influences the way of production and the final mechanical properties that each product will exhibit.
That is why Green & Growth maintains a continuous plant breeding program, as well as a continuous post-harvest processing adaptation program to integrate our products into the different industries, based on their needs and in direct collaboration with their R&D departments.
Thanks to the ultrastructural arrangement of hemp cellulose microfibrils and the improvement of pyrolysis and post-treatment conditions, it is possible to obtain biochars with improved structure, porosity, mechanical, physical, chemical and even electrical properties that offer new opportunities to the industry.
For this reason, we continue to work to achieve increasingly technical biochars, with specific properties for each industrial sector and with quality seals such as the European Biochar Certificate (EBC).
Utilization of the by-products resulting from the production of Biochar.
Green & Growth is investigating the possibility of purifying the by-products resulting from the production of biochar, such as wood vinegar., wood tar, and gasesfor better utilization.
Wood vinegar has value as an insect repellent in agriculture. Wood tar has therapeutic value, being included in numerous ointments, as well as its industrial value for its adhesive, sealing or waterproofing properties in products such as varnishes, flooring, waterproofing and similar. Gases such as hydrogen and methane can be stored for different uses.
Stripping out the poles and deserts, there are 8 billion habitable hectares in the world; almost 50% of it is agricultural land, 33% of which is degraded, according to the FAO 2016 report.
Among the main causes of soil degradation are the incorrect management of both intensive and extensive crops, such as excessive tillage and herbicide use, or the application of pesticides, which result in soil destructuring, loss of organic matter, compaction, death of biota, loss of natural fertility, uncontrolled erosion, poor drainage, loss of resistance to drought or other climatic inclemencies.
On the other hand, there is great concern about the state of soil contamination, with the main causes of contamination being the excessive use of agrochemicals on crops and chemical waste in industrial soils.
Thus, Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) are contaminants whose severe toxicity to humans (endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity effects, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity) is being demonstrated at nmol to μmol levels. But their concentrations in soils reach levels of hundreds to thousands of μg per kg of soil in many locations.
In a global scenario such as the one we are facing, Green & Growth, making use of the remediation capacity of hemp, is committed to remediate agricultural soils where hemp is grown to obtain lignocellulosic fibers, for a period of years sufficient to eliminate all pollutants and opt for organic farming labels.
So, Green & Growth' s plan is to start a dual crop for both hemp fiber and hemp grain utilization.
The hemp grain or seed has a high amount of protein and oil of high nutritional value; so much so that it is considered one of the new sources of protein of vegetable origin that contains the 9 essential amino acids, is a new source of unsaturated fatty acids (over 90%) and new source of essential fatty acids, with one of the best ratios in nature between essential fatty acids omega-6: omega-3 (3:1).
The scientific community considers hemp grain to be a functional food, i.e., in addition to its high nutritional value, it possesses biologically active molecules that add beneficial health effects and reduce the risk of certain diseases.