Sorghum and Soil Health: Evaluating a Climate-Smart Crop and a Field Monitoring Tool Kit by a Small Farm Network in the Hudson Valley

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2024: $29,998.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2025
Grant Recipient: White Feather Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Brooke Singer
White Feather Farm


  • Agronomic: sorghum (milo), sorghum (sweet)
  • Miscellaneous: syrup


  • Crop Production: cover crops, double cropping, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    The Carbon Sponge Hub at White Feather Farm will lead a network
    of five small farms in New York’s Hudson Valley region to
    continue to trial and evaluate white-grain, annual sorghum for
    yield and changes in soil health while also evaluating a suite of
    off-the-shelf field monitoring tools, referred to as the Carbon
    Sponge Kit. Sorghum is an underutilized crop with great potential
    as both human food and a climate-smart crop capable of helping
    sequester carbon in soil. Farmers in regions where sorghum has
    not been widely grown, like the Hudson Valley, can take advantage
    of the plant’s ability to adapt to a wide range of conditions and
    provide ecosystem services on farms — especially increasing soil
    organic carbon — while also generating revenue. Alongside Kit
    testing, we will send samples to two professional labs and work
    with a soil scientist to analyze results. We aim to endorse
    specific tests and carbon targets for farmers interested in
    regenerative agriculture. A major goal of the Carbon Sponge Hub
    is to help change the profile of sorghum in the U.S., including
    where it is grown, how it is grown and what it is used for. A
    comprehensive outreach program includes a final report featuring
    five case studies including recommendations for how to
    incorporate annual sorghum as a cash crop on a small farm and
    priorities for future research and investments. We will host
    public workshops and community volunteer days at two farms to
    share progress as well as promote easy-to-access online

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary objective of this proposal is for a network of small
    farmers in the Hudson Valley of New York to continue to work
    together to evaluate annual white-grain sorghum for crop yield
    and soil health. We are selecting five farms for this study with
    conditions, priorities, and needs distinctive from each other,
    allowing us to document a range of approaches for growing sorghum
    and serve as case studies in a final report. From this
    experience, we will be able to outline priorities for future
    research and investments. Sharing our process, from planting to
    market along with successes and failures, will support other
    small farmers to grow sorghum and help expand the New York
    Grainshed. We will continue to collect data at regular intervals
    with our suite of off-the-shelf tools for soil health assessment,
    and simultaneously sample soil and plants for analysis at two
    professional labs. This aids us in our secondary objective: to
    verify the accuracy of the Carbon Sponge Kit and make data
    collection recommendations for farmers wanting to balance crop
    yield and soil health. We will draft preliminary best practices
    for regenerative sorghum production in our region that is backed
    by farmer experience and data.

    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.