Australia, having a traditional focus on agricultural production, could become a world leader in not only the commercial production, but the research and development of industrial, broad acre bamboo farming and processing. Hahn Group have started trialling crops in S.E Queensland and are already receiving interest from China, the worlds’ largest exported of bamboo products.
Hahn are partnered with DETE, Education QLD, Commonwealth Gov (Dept. Employment – REJC), in an agricultural trial in the Surat Basin. By utilising the facilities and educational training centre of the former Dalby Agricultural College; now Dalby State High School – Bunya Campus and some Western Downs High Schools, students will have the opportunity to learn the bamboo farming processes. Hahn Group is providing the initial bamboo crop for propagation trials.
The project in this area is enabling a bamboo production trial and template for the agricultural industry.
Farmers are facing difficult times with many crops under pressure from overseas cheaper production, sugar cane being a prime example in Queensland. Hahn has been experimenting with a variety of crops that have the potential to thrive well. The crops planted have been chosen on their suitability for Queensland climate and soil types. Hahn Group have planted crops in Wandoan, Toowoomba and at their farm on the Sunshine Coast.
During the last decade, increased knowledge and research about bamboo has had a tremendous economic impact and has given rise to many new industries and products.
Bamboo clothing is a relatively new product, but is expected to grow rapidly due to the materials unique mechanical and environmental qualities. The natural fibres in bamboo clothing give it exceptionally high performance and a soft feel which is often compared to cashmere. Its non-irritant qualities mean it is often used in baby clothes.
On June 23 2014 Hahn hosted 5 business delegates that had travelled from China. During the visit the delegates were invited on a tour of Hahn’s plantation at Glenview on the Sunshine Coast.
Hahn currently provides services to a major energy supplier in Australia who is involved in the CSG industry. Hahn’s CEO Allan Lear has created world class technologies that allow Hahn to re-use the unwanted bi-products that in traditional methods would generally become landfill. These processed streams can then be used for beneficial reuse in high quality products such as soil conditioners and potting mix. Hahn has undertaken research into these beneficial products and how they can benefit this bamboo production trial
The crop would see a massive increase in returns at the farm gate thanks to far less input costs and the sheer diversity of potential products, particularly coupled with local processing plants. Industrial bamboo also uses far less water than most other irrigated crops, making it more suitable for the all too common years when full water allocations are unable to be supplied to irrigators. Compared to Australian cotton yields, bamboo fibre wins hands down.
Bamboo yields up to 60 tonnes per hectare compared to cotton, which at best, produces approx. 1.87 tonnes per hectare in Australia.
Asia is by far the biggest producer of bamboo products, with China as the biggest exporter. The main markets for bamboo products are the US and Europe.
96% of the cotton fibre that is grown in Australia is sold to other countries. Only 4% is manufactured in local spinning mills.
The export potential for raw bamboo wool and cotton produced in Australia is enormous.
Hahn Group is working closely with Chinese investors who are keen to import Australian ‘raw bamboo cotton’ to meet the needs of their growing International textile export trade. The industry in China is set to reach an export value of 48 Billion US$ by 2020.
Bamboo is an extremely fast growing plant, with some species obtaining growth surges of 100cm per 24 hour period. Most bamboo species grow to their full height within a single growing season.
Once harvested, bamboo can replenish itself within a year and some species grow up to 120cm per day. It is a naturally prolific and resilient plant, which does not need fertilisers to boost its growth, or pesticides since bamboo is naturally pest-resistant. This marks it out from cotton or timber, which needs to be replanted at every harvest and requires extensive spraying and watering to achieve optimal growth.
The physical and environmental properties of bamboo make it an exceptional economic resource for a wide range of uses, particularly as a cotton replacement. It grows quickly and can be harvested annually without depletion of the parent plant and without causing harvesting damage or deterioration of the soil. Bamboo can grow on marginal land, not suitable for traditional agriculture or forestry, or as an agro-forestry crop.