Cropland Remediation of Heavy Metals

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $11,707.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Royall D Farm, LLC
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
William Drumheller, Sr.
Royall D Farm, LLC



  • Agronomic: hemp


  • Soil Management: toxic status mitigation

    Proposal summary:

    Our proposed solution is to test the use of industrial hemp as a bio-accumulator and extract the heavy metals from the soil. I have established a base by having my soils tested for heavy metals and pesticides. We anticipate that the extraction of heavy metals by use of industrial hemp will reduce the levels of heavy metals and pesticides that are currently in the soil. Testing before, during and after each cycle will determine a base for how many plantings may be required as well as any other cover crops that may be needed to increase soil health.

    Just to clarify, I am currently licensed in the state of VA and with the USDA to grow hemp. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our primary goal is to remediate the soils by using industrial hemp to remove heavy metals.  We plan to use 3 different plots and have two planting cycles of hemp.  With regard to the testing of soils for heavy metals and pesticides, we will be retesting to form an initial base using a chosen lab that will be performing all tests. Testing of soils for soil health will also be completed, which will allow the research team (consisting of the lab, students and University) to provide input to establish if any cover crops may be used between hemp plantings to improve overall soil health. 

    We will be measuring the current heavy metal levels of the soil: FDA Class 1 Heavy Metals (arsenic, lead, mercury, & cadmium). Testing of heavy metals in the soil will be performed periodically during and after each growth cycle. Testing will also focus on establishing a measurement of soil organic matter for nutrient retention, soil fertility, chemical and biological health. Finally, to have a better understanding of the effectiveness of the hemp as a bio-accumulator, we will be testing the levels of heavy metals in the sampled plants during and after each growth cycle; knowledge of this will allow for proper disposal techniques to be explored.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.