Arising from agronomic research into energy farming in Northland, a sugar-ethanol industry based on the crop sweet sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) has been proposed. The competitiveness of such an industry will probably depend on an integration with the processing functions of the dairy industry, and on the advantages gained from the increased animal production resulting from utilising the sugar-extracted crop residues. A theoretical analyses of dairy, sheep, and fattening beef systems indicated that a limit of 10% of the farm cropped in sweet sorghum annually would optimise the production and use of sugar-extracted crop residues based on the use of most of the residues as silage. If such material could be converted directly to increase stocking rate, a substantial rise in net farm income was predicted from growing sweet sorghum for sugar. Twenty Northland farmers were interviewed concerning on-farm aspects of this sugar industry concept. While limited in scope, this survey indicated a number of factors influencing further development of the concept, such as the importance of cropping contractors and independent technical advisors, and the doubt concerning the expected response from feeding crop residues to livestock.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 43, , 97-100, 1983
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