Sorghum for BIRDS: The Grain that Gives™ in Western Kansas

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Photo by Brittany Smith

An advantageous habitat program for farmers and gamebirds

Sorghum is The Grain that Gives™. That’s the phrase commonly used by Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, and its partners in reference to its application for upland landscapes.

Whatever your personal definition may be, farmers and bird hunters both agree that sorghum paired with conservation practices across sprawling acres plays a critical role for the connection between wildlife populations, soil health, and water quality & quantity.

Committed to showcasing this nexus, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever partnered with the United Sorghum Checkoff Program to launch Sorghum for BIRDS (Building Innovative, Resilient, and Diverse agricultural Systems) - an initiative to help achieve mutual goals for landscape-level sustainability and profitability in the heart of America’s sorghum belt. The program is designed to provide increased technical support for sorghum growers to enhance upland bird habitat while improving farm-level profitability and sustainability outcomes.

“The resource-conserving nature of sorghum makes it a key contributor to healthy soils and the protection of precious water sources, while its wildlife-friendly characteristics help to support diverse ecosystems. By helping pair this incredible commodity with quality habitat, we’re reestablishing pheasants and quail in western Kansas while meeting ecosystem objectives for growers,” said Brittany Smith, Precision Ag & Conservation Specialist for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.


Are you a sorghum grower in western or southern Kansas? If so, Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever, and the United Sorghum Checkoff Program encourage you to contact us for enrollment opportunities! Here’s how:

Sorghum for BIRDS Initiative Guidelines

Financial Incentives

  • Whole-field practices: $5/acre (soil health crop rotations including sorghum, soil health assessment, reduced tillage, etc.)
  • Cover crops: $15/acre
  • Edge-of-field practices: $25/acre (perennial cover such as field borders, filter strips, playa buffers, pivot corners, etc.)
  • Up to $1000 for the adoption of advanced irrigation water management technology.
  • Sorghum for BIRDS payments will be offered IN ADDITION to any conservation program payments received.

Project Area

  • Sorghum for BIRDS is open to all irrigated and dryland acres on which sorghum is actively included in the crop rotation within the following Kansas counties: Rooks, Osborne, Trego, Ellis, Russell, Scott, Lane, Ness, Rush, Barton, Finney, Hodgeman, Pawnee, Gray, and Ford. Applications from outside project area will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Requirements

  • Sorghum must be included in the rotation on the acres enrolled.
  • Field-level profitability analysis (precision data is not required to complete this analysis) to identify conservation opportunities.
  • Implementation of a new conservation practice on the field enrolled.
  • Growers must allow ongoing monitoring data collection from the enrolled field(s) for 3 years. Data will only be collected from enrolled fields and will not be shared publicly.

For more information about applying for Sorghum for BIRDS or enrollment opportunities, please contact Brittany Smith, Kansas Precision Ag & Conservation Specialist, by email at bsmith@pheasantsforever.org or by phone at 316-302-4467.