iHemp Magazine iHemp - Issue 1 - Sept 2018 - Page 20

cost of such a factory is in the many millions of dollars and encouraging investor uptake at times has been a challenge due to the fact hemp is such a new product in the eyes of many investors. “Now we have investors on board and our plan is to set up a North and a South Island fiber facility, along with our North Island hemp foods facility - HempFoods New Zealand Ltd. "We trialled the Clarke D8 out in the fields over several years from 2013 to 2017. However, we decided that to really take the hard work out of it for New Zealand hemp farmers it would mean we'd need an indoor processing facility, incorporating other follow-on processes like: Dust extraction, Dryers, Shakers, Openers, Scutchers, Packing Equipment etc." Dave goes on, "Testing through the 2017 harvest we successfully processed fresh hemp stalks into hemp fiber and hurd, products which can be utilized by a wide variety of industries." This innovation is a world first, and a massive step in increasing efficiency for hemp farmers. Hemp fiber is produced using a modern decortication method or older hammer mill machine. These are multi-million dollar facilities that separate the fiber by forcefully 'hammering' the hemp stalks.  A downside Pictured: Dave & Anne Jordan 20 to the hammer mill is the fact that the hemp is required to ret in the field for one to four months before it can be harvested and processed, as the fresh fiber contains too much sticky resin for the hammer mill process to work.   This makes the production of hemp fiber a very costly process, not only due to the cost of building the factory, but also the loss of land for half of a year. The 2017 Clarke D8 didn’t just work in principle, it successfully generated an abundance of fiber from the crop. The machine has been built strong, after being intentionally pushed to the limits during development. In fact, a team of engineers were tasked with breaking the D8, so that weak points could be identified. These points of weakness were then redesigned, rebuilt, and retested until they stood up to the abuse that the world’s strongest fiber will throw at it. The fiber created by the Clarke D8 remains as strong as physically possible. This is because the fiber has incurred no damage as part of the process, whether it be mechanical (such as in the hammer mill) or biological (such as in the process of retting). Dave concludes, "We believe that our machine is now capable of producing some of the finest hemp fiber on earth. The potential uses for such a fiber are innumerable, and we can’t wait to work with those on the cutting-edge of technology who wish to utilize this unique product." q