Soil, Water and Climate Benefits of Sorghum
Corn and wheat dominate a lot of the headlines, but there’s another grain that’s been around a long time, and has major advantages for soil and water conservation. Nate Blum says sorghum is one of the first grains that mankind cultivated, and our gut microbiome evolved alongside the grain. Blum, who is the CEO of Sorghum United also said many don’t realize the soil health and yield benefits that the crop provides.
Blum… “Sorghum has a larger root biomass, so actually leaves more biology in the soil, which is good because dirt is not dirt. Soil is a living thing. There's microbiology that lives in there as well that we depend upon. But it also goes down about six feet, which means that it breaks up this layer in the soil called the compaction layer. Because that compaction layer is such that the roots of other crops cannot penetrate it, and that makes them less drought-resistant because then they can't access nutrients and water from deeper underneath. Now, sorghum breaks that up. We see research from Kansas State that shows that about an average eight percent increase in yield in crops following sorghum and rotation.”
Blum adds that sorghum uses about one-third of the water other crops do and has carbon sequestration benefits as well.
Blum… “Texas A&M released a study last spring, and they showed that because of that larger root biomass, sorghum captures more carbon and buries it deeper in the soil and for longer.”
Blum said there are tremendous efforts right now through grants at USDA including $65 million to the United Sorghum Checkoff Program to quantify what it means to be climate-smart.