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Project update: National industrial hemp variety trials (IHVT)

AgriFutures Australia is supporting the development of national industrial hemp variety trials (IHVT), to address a core issue identified by Australian industry as essential to its growth ambitions.

In February 2020, Mr Tony Eyres from industry consultancy Rounding Up provided an overview and update of the IHVT project to the Australian Industrial Hemp Conference (AIHC) in Fremantle.

The presentation included a synopsis of the project objectives – primarily to determine the best performing grain varieties of industrial hemp for Australia. Methodology, preliminary industry observations and priority next steps were also addressed. This included the necessity to secure funding from corporates, government agencies and industry/charitable organisations to deliver the Project.

IHVT framework and protocols

Leading up to the Conference, Rounding Up has worked in conjunction with the Project Steering Committee on a framework and detailed trial protocols.

The IHVT framework and protocols will prescribe transparency and objectivity in the selection of varieties, site locations and compliance in the delivery of the trials.

The materials will ensure simplicity in design and execution without compromising the integrity of the trials and learnings to be achieved. They include oversight by an expert biometrician to ensure statistical rigour in design and analysis of outputs.

The trials will be undertaken across a national footprint of sites in response to industry demands. Variety performance will be measured primarily by grain yield and composition (oil and protein levels).

Procedures relating to experimental processes (ie. site preparation, planting, harvesting, drying), accurate data collection and recording, audit oversight, laboratory methodology and timely reporting are all defined.

A robust governance framework will overlay the trial delivery that provides clear roles and responsibilities and includes resources with expertise in variety trials, financial and risk management, quality assurance and project management.

The framework and protocols will also accommodate the natural evolution in project objectives as suitable varieties are identified and the examination of agronomic and other variables as performance enhancers are explored.

The Project will break new ground for the industry, ensuring all information generated from the trials is publicly available.

Technical Committee convened in Fremantle, WA

A Technical Review of the draft trial framework and collection of protocols was undertaken in Fremantle, leveraging off the Hemp Conference timing and attendance. Participants brought experience from across the industrial hemp value chain - growing, processing, agronomy, research design and extension - identified by industry engagement by Rounding Up over recent months.

The workshop style meeting examined the draft trial protocols to ensure they were ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver against the objectives of the Project, including break-out groups of 3-4 people to drill into detail on:

  • timing of planting
  • no. of replicates
  • plant and equipment
  • paddock history
  • indicative costings
  • regulatory requirements
  • pre-sowing treatments
  • min/max no. varieties
  • seed – sourcing, storage and handling, pre and post-harvest
  • harvesting
  • key measurements
  • data capture – formats
  • phasing of trials
  • database management
  • plot sizes – width, length, row spacings
  • soil testing
  • auditing
  • extension – methods, materials, level of detail, timing, formats, field days.

The discussion was incredibly productive, robust and positive. The feedback and outputs of this review have been incorporated into the trial design and protocols.

Technical Committee participants

Next steps


The Project is now entering the final phase of design with the Industry Overview, Trial Framework and Protocols proposal to be reviewed and endorsed by the Project Steering Committee by 1 April 2020.

This will form the basis of the Project Business Case to be used as a vehicle to finalise the funding support from a broad range of industry, government and corporate bodies. Any parties interested in providing such support are encouraged to contact Rounding Up.

The Project team remains focused on completing the work by 31 May to enable the trials to commence later in 2020.

As was previously communicated via the AgriFutures Australia website you are encouraged to complete the industrial hemp online survey. Your ongoing support, by forwarding this email to friends and colleagues, is greatly appreciated.

The team look forward to providing regular updates as the project progresses.

Complete the Australian industrial hemp survey

Tony Eyres
Rounding Up, Principal
+61 429 069 072 


Tom McCue
AgriFutures Australia Senior Manager, Emerging Industries Business Development
+61 407 438 258