Benefits of growing sweet sorghumSweet sorghum produces less grain but more biomass than grain sorghum. Unlike many other crops used for renewable energy production, sweet sorghum can simultaneously produce food and energy products.
Evaluating the economics of growing sweet sorghumSweet sorghum – Opportunities for a new renewable fuel and food industry in Australia, published by RIRDC in 2013, also examines the opportunities to develop a sweet sorghum industry in Australia.
- analyses the agronomy of sweet sorghum
- demonstrates the production of energy, food, and feed products from sorghum
- assesses the potential economic benefits of sweet sorghum biorefineries in the Australia
- maps out the life cycle of sweet sorghum biorefinery products
- asseses the potential for integrating sweet sorghum and sugarcane processing.
Growing sweet sorghumAlthough sweet sorghum is believed to have originally developed in tropical regions, it also grows well in temperate climates. Compared to sugarcane, sweet sorghum requires less fertiliser and water to produce significant biomass. It also has a higher tolerance to salt and drought. The Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry provides a guide to sorghum varieties and planting methods as well as comprehensive information on nutritional inputs and disease management. The Department of Primary Industries, NSW, provides a similar best management practices fact sheet for grain sorghum [PDF 879 kb]. Although sorghum is not widely grown in Western Australia, the Department of Agriculture, WA, has a sorghum growing factsheet for WA growers [PDF 42 kb].
- fallow management strategies
- planting time and optimal row spacings
- nutrition and fertiliser strategies
- weed and pest control.
Harvesting sweet sorghumThe Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has information on Sorghum – Nutrition, irrigation and harvest issues, which includes:
- when to harvest
- header settings
- pre-harvest spraying.
- harvesting the stalk with the seed head retained
- removing the seed heads during harvest.
Supplying sweet sorghumOne of the major advantages of growing sweet sorghum is that the major components of the crop can be used to generate multiple, value-added products such as food and feed products, and fuel and energy products. Sweet sorghum – Opportunities for a new renewable fuel and food industry in Australia, looks at the typical transport costs for sorghum (see Section 1.6.2). A critical parameter determining the economics of integrating sweet sorghum into the sugarcane cropping/processing system is the transport distance to the factory.
Pentland, Charters Towers, Queensland 4816,
50 Willowvale Drive, Willow Vale , Queensland 4209
Biological Sciences Callaghan, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308
Phone: (02) 4921 5858
Hermitage Research Facility, Warwick, Queensland,
Phone: 07 4660 3640
Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland 4000,
Phone: 07 3138 1551