Sorghum Shows Three Indisputable Assets, as Production Costs Rise
The world market tension, related to the sanitary crisis, and then to the war in Ukraine has triggered a steady rise in farm production costs for the past nineteen months; this is particularly true for fertilisers and crop protection products. In addition to that, water resources have diminished due to unfavourable weather. Sorghum brings answers to all the three points.
A Low-input Cereal…
The low fertiliser use is one of sorghum’s assets. Being a plant that is able to take up a large part of the mineral nitrogen available in the soil, this cereal requires only moderate nitrogen fertiliser treatments. Also, since it does not leave behind many crop residues after the harvest, it helps to reduce nitrogen leaching into the water.
The amount of nitrogen absorbed by sorghum to produce one unit of production
|Type of production||Unitary requirement||Production potential|
|Grain sorghum||29 kg N/t||< 5 t/ha|
|25 kg N/t||5-8 t/ha|
|23 kg N/t||8-10 t/ha|
|21 kg N/t||> 10 t/ha|
|16 kg N/t||< 10 t MS/ha|
|14 kg N/t||10-15 t MS/ha|
|12,5 kg N/t||> 15 t MS/ha|
* The per-unit requirements are expressed per ton of grains (for grain sorghum) and per ton of dry matter (whole plant; for feed sorghum). The requirements are weighted based on the crop’s production potential (better N efficiency with high-potential hybrids).
…which needs few crop protection products…
Sorghum presents the double advantage of being disease-, and pest-, tolerant. It therefore requires very few treatments to stay healthy.
“I do not use fungicides at all and barely any insecticides. I sometimes notice Helicoverpa (Heliothis) attacks, but they are few and far between.” – Eric Zambon, farmer in the Haute-Garonne
…and little water!
Thanks to its deeper root system, sorghum requires about 30 percent less water than maize. It also helps prevent soil erosion, while at the same time it is more water stress resistant.
In the current context, which calls for a good production cost control, sorghum presents obvious low-input qualities. They are all assets that will prove more and more valuable.