Researchers Have High Hopes for Sorghum Sudan Grass
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
There are high hopes this year for a tall grass that could increase Island potato yields by enriching the soil and naturally suppressing weeds and insect pests.
Judith Nyiraneza, Aaron Mills, Christine Noronha, Yefang Jiang, Mark Grimmett, Vernon Rodd and Scott Anderson are part of a large national study focusing on enhancing productivity and sustainability of potato production in Canada.
Locally, the team is looking at the potential of Sorghum grass as a soil builder, nutrient holder, and a natural fumigant and insecticide. Promising results were obtained from a previous six-year study at Harrington, where higher marketable potato yields were obtained following Sorghum sudan grass than other three-year potato rotation systems.
The grass, which can reach heights of five to 12 feet, is being evaluated as a rotational crop for potatoes.
"Sorghum could be a good rotational crop because it breaks down slowly in the soil, holds on to nutrients, suppresses nematodes and has bio-fumigant properties that can help control soil-borne diseases."- Judith Nyiraneza, Research Scientist - Crop Nutrient Management, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)
"Growers are looking for ways to improve the quality of their soil to increase production while reducing costs," says Judith Nyiraneza. "Sorghum could be a good fit in rotation because it breaks down slowly in the soil, holds on to nutrients, suppresses nematodes and has bio-fumigant properties that can help control soil-borne diseases."
The team is working with an AAFC economist Mohammad Khakbazan in Brandon, Manitoba, who will look at the cost benefits of growing sorghum grass as a rotational crop.
Currently, only a few farmers on the Island are growing the grass, but that could change if ongoing research generates successful results.
- Sorghum sudan grass is being studied as a possible rotation crop with potatoes.
- The tall grass could increase potato yields by enriching the soil and naturally suppressing weeds and insect pests.
- Sorghum grass suppresses nematodes and has bio-fumigant properties that can help control soil-borne diseases and reduce the need for chemical pesticides and insecticides.
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