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Title: New environmental applications for an ancient crop

item Webber Iii, Charles
item D'SOUZA, NANDIKA - University Of North Texas
item AYRE, BRIAN - University Of North Texas
item CHAPMAN, KENT - University Of North Texas
item STEVEN, KEVIN - University Of North Texas
item DAGNON, KOFFI - University Of North Texas

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2009
Publication Date: 10/15/2009
Citation: Webber III, C.L., D'Souza, N.A., Ayre, B.G., Chapman, K.D., Steven, K.J., Dagnon, K.L. 2009. New environmental applications for an ancient crop [abstract]. Third National Conference on Agriculture & Natural Resources Conservation & Management, October 15-18, 2009, Dover, Deleware. p. 26-27.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: New technologies are providing new opportunities for kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) to provide environmental solutions in a diverse range of applications. Kenaf is a warm-season annual crop closely related to cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.) that can be successfully produced in a large portion of the United States. Kenaf’s high cellulose production, unique fiber characteristics, and natural allelopathic activity have environmentally friendly applications in bio-fuel production, soil bio-remediation, bio-polymer composites, and organic weed control. As a result of agronomic research, kenaf can successfully produce 6 to 10 t/ac (14 to 23 mt/ha) of oven-dried kenaf stalks under dry-land conditions. The core portion of the stalk is oleophilic, naturally micronizing and absorbing oil (hydrocarbons) from contaminated soil, providing an advantageous environment for decomposition by microorganisms. Kenaf bast fibers have been identified as an environmentally friendly replacement for synthetic fibers in plastic composites, while increasing the mechanical characteristics of bio-based composites with addition of 1-5% of kenaf fibers. Increase preference for organic food and the resulting need for organic weed control methods and non-synthetic herbicide, may be enhanced by kenaf’s allelopathic activity. Allelopathy is the natural production of chemicals that inhibit another plant species, and in the case of kenaf may be used to reduce weed competition in organic production. The potential environmental applications can provide new uses for kenaf.