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KENAF – An Alternative Crop For Tropical and Temperate Agriculture
An introduction to a plant that can stop the logging of old forests
Hibiscus cannabinus L., kenaf is a warm annual plant closely related to cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.).
Kenaf can be used as a domestic stock of rope fiber in the production of ropes, twine, carpet backing and sacking. Research in the early 1940s focused on the development of high-yielding anthracnose-resistant varieties, breeding practices, and harvesting machinery.
Kenaf Fiber is an ideal VEGETABLE and renewable fiber source that has many of the characteristics of both wood and plant fibers. Kenaf has many uses including textile fiber and wood fiber properties. The obtained fibers are extremely strong and very durable. Kenaf has many uses including:.
Pulp, paper and cardboard (from the wet process).
Standard newsprint containing between 90% and 100% chemical-thermo-mechanical pulp.
Standard newsprint made from a mixture of KTMP pulp and inkless pulp from coated paper.
Newsprint from a mixture of thermomechanical kenaf pulp (KTMP) and wood pulp of southern pine.
Super-calendered writing and printing paper made from blends containing KTMP cellulose.
Various types of writing and printing paper containing KTMP.
Fine coated paper from mixtures containing KTMP.
Various types of tissue paper containing KTMP pulp.
Sulfate pulp (Kraft) from the whole kenaf stem and from separated fibers.
Chemical pulp of whole kenaf stalks or of separated fibers obtained by processes other than Kraft.
Linerboard, a corrugated board made from kenaf pulp (by mechanical or chemical processes using the whole kenaf stalk or separated fibers).
Lining for roofs made of felt paper.
Hardboard boards made from whole stems or separated fibers.
Cellulose for chemical use.
Handmade art paper from whole kenaf stalks or just separated fibers.
Panels (dry processes using formable fiber mats).
Mattresses made of molded fibers for industrial use from Kenaf.
Natural cast fibers for automotive and aircraft interior panels.
Rigid shaped products: boxes, trays, drums, pallets, etc. for packaging, storage and shipping of industrial products.
Pressed board and other materials for use in the furniture industry and construction.
Compressed insulation boards.
Decorative wall panels.
Compressed fiber coverings for doors and other decorative applications (architectural).
Traditional use of ropes
Lining material (replacement for jute and kenaf imported from Asia).
Rope, rope and rope as a substitute for imported rope.
Material for mattresses and furniture.
Leaf fiber mattresses impregnated with grass seeds and absorbents for “instant lawns”.
Personal fiber mattresses combined with spraying mulching products for terrain erosion control.
The mass is used as an absorbent.
Litter for animals.
Products of horticulture and floriculture.
Cleaning of liquid leaks from plants in industrial zones.
Cleaning of industrial floors.
Additive for drilling muds in oil wells.
Inert, natural and biodegradable filler, used instead of polystyrene foam.
Packaging for gifts and handicrafts.
Biomass for burning in various forms (powder, fiber core and general waste).
Currently, around 1,700,000 hectares of kenaf are cultivated worldwide. It is usually grown by smallholders and backyard growers. China has over 250,000 hectares, but plans to grow millions of hectares of kenaf. For thousands of years, kenaf has been used for rope, food, twine and sacking. Kenaf combines care for the environment with the enormous need for the most important component of a civilized society, paper. At the same time, it can help mitigate climate change caused by deforestation. It is a win-win plant.
Kenaf is still used in Africa and Asia as rope, and has been processed in the same way for over 4,000 years. However, in 2008, kenaf came of age in the developed world due to the juxtaposition of many factors including global warming, extensive planetary deforestation, high energy prices, and extreme weather patterns developing across our planet. As a result of these factors, the need for an environmentally friendly alternative to the use of wood-based fibers has grown and will continue to accelerate for the indefinite future.
For many years, kenaf was considered only an ecological innovation, which was mainly used by the so-called ecofanatics. They got kenaf as eco-paper, because they didn’t want to buy chip paper from Old Growth Forest. Many people did not really believe in the possibility of global warming and the contributing factors to the excessive deforestation that drives global climate change. But as the Arctic ice continues to melt, the weather gets wilder and wilder, oil prices accelerate, and global forests shrink, kenaf is at the forefront of the coming environmental jobs and sea changes of sustainable development.
Kenaf is a fiber that can change the world! Join corporate leaders who are moving towards sustainability
During the 1950s, kenaf was identified as a promising fiber source for paper pulp. Kenaf fibers are processed into high-quality newsprint and bond paper.
Although kenaf is usually considered a fiber plant, research shows that it has a high protein content and is therefore a potential livestock feed. Crude protein in kenaf leaves ranged from 21 to 34 percent, stem crude protein ranged from 10 to 12 percent, and whole plant crude protein ranged from 16 to 23 percent.
Kenaf can be effectively ensiled and has satisfactory digestibility with a high percentage of digestible proteins. The digestibility of dry matter and crude protein in kenaf feed ranged from 53 to 58 percent and 59 to 71 percent, respectively, of kenaf flour used as a supplement in a rice ration for sheep, compared to a ration containing alfalfa meal.
In addition to using kenaf for rope, paper pulp, and animal feed, researchers have explored its use as poultry and animal litter, a bulking agent for composting sewage sludge, and as a potting soil additive. Additional products include automotive instrument panels, carpet padding, corrugated media, as a “substitute for fiberglass and other synthetic fibers,” building materials (chipboards of varying densities, thicknesses, and fire and insect resistance), absorbents, textiles, and as fibers in the extraction of molded plastic.
Photosensitivity and seed production
According to photosensitivity, kenaf varieties can be divided into two large groups – photosensitive and photoinsensitive. Typically, photosensitive species are preferred for fiber production in the United States. Two of these cultivars, Everglades 41 and Everglades 71, were developed by USDA researchers to extend the vegetative growing season before the plants begin to flower. Photosensitive cultivars begin flowering when day length decreases to approximately 12.5 h; mid-September in southern states. In photosensitive varieties, the beginning of flowering causes a decrease in vegetative growth. Due to the late onset of flowering and the inability to produce mature seed before a killing frost, seed production in the United States for these cultivars is limited to southern Florida, the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and southernmost Arizona and California.
Photoinsensitive (often called day neutral) varieties can begin flowering and produce mature seed before a killing frost north of latitude 300. Photoinsensitive varieties, such as Guatemala 4, Guatemala 45, Guatemala 48, Guatemala 51, and Cuba 2032, can begin flowering at 100 days after planting (DAP), and before the day length is reduced to 12.5 h. Therefore, photosensitive varieties can be planted during May or early June in the central United States and still have enough time to produce mature seed. Earlier production of mature seed for photoinsensitive varieties greatly expands the potential areas of seed production.
As a livestock feed, kenaf is usually harvested at an earlier stage of growth than as a fiber crop; 60 to 90 DAP compared to 120 to 150 DAP. During a shorter growing season, photoinsensitive varieties can produce dry matter yields equal to photosensitive varieties, while using seed that can be produced further north and over a larger geographic area.
Harvesting and pelleting
Evaluation of field equipment for kenaf harvesting remains an important aspect of commercialization. It has been proven that standard forage cutting, shredding and baling equipment can be used to harvest kenaf for feed or fiber. Kenaf can be baled into small square or large round bales. Sugarcane harvesters, with and without modification, were also successfully used for harvesting kenaf. In cotton-growing regions, cotton modules were used for field-side storage of chopped kenaf. Kenaf can also be pelleted for use as a fiber or forage crop.
Pelletizing kenaf increased its density by at least 390 percent, which reduced transportation and storage costs. It may be more economically advantageous to use available commercial harvesting and processing equipment instead of investing in the development and production of special kenaf equipment. Appropriate harvesting and pelleting equipment is readily available throughout the United States. Mobile harvesters/separators are being developed for field work that will cut and then separate the fibers from the chaff and core in the field.
When harvesting kenaf for fiber use, moisture content and availability of equipment are important factors. Kenaf can be harvested for fiber when it is dead, due to frost or herbicides, or while it is still growing. Dry standing kenaf can be cut and then chopped, baled or transported as full length stalks. If the drying and defoliation process of kenaf depends on a killing frost, the harvest date will vary depending on the area of the country where the crop is grown and the time required for the kenaf to dry unless artificial drying is used. Much of the land on which kenaf could be sown is not suitable for late harvest due to weather conditions and soil type.
Actively growing kenaf can be cut and left to dry in the field. Once dried, kenaf can be cut, baled or transported as full-length stalks. The availability of harvesters/separators in the field will further increase the harvesting possibilities.
Kenaf is a crop that is normally harvested in late autumn or winter, and only once a year. This presents some unique situations in terms of supply and storage.
Additional markets for kenaf as a fiber crop and as a finished product need to be developed. The development of kenaf as a fiber crop depends on several conditions. What happens in the forest industry in the areas of wood and pulp products will be a major factor in the development of kenaf into a major industry. The development of large stable markets for raw and finished products must occur before farmers and industry are willing to invest time and capital on a large scale.
The development of any new industry requires time, capital, scientific research, product research and development, and ultimately stable markets. In the kenaf industry, some of this development has already taken place, but much remains to be done.
Acceptance of kenaf as a major commercial crop in the United States will strengthen as additional uses for kenaf are identified. The increased production, processing and product development carried out within private state universities and USDA laboratories is encouraging and suggests a bright future for the establishment of kenaf as a commercial crop. However, for kenaf to become a viable alternative agricultural crop, stable markets must be established that will provide farmers with an economic return equal to or greater than what they currently receive for a given crop.
In order for kenaf to effectively replace products currently on the market, it will need to be of equal or better quality than those to be replaced, be readily available to industry and end users, be easy to harvest, and have the potential for economical production.
Additional agricultural research for tropical countries should include disease control and cultivar adaptation, along with evaluation of cropping systems and economics appropriate for their country’s production areas and products.
Today, kenaf is used in car interiors and other similar products.
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