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Chinese farmers use new methods as agriculture goes automated

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-02-11 19:02
A farmer sows soybeans with a machine in Woyang country, Anhui province, September 2018, [Photo by Liu Qinli/chinadaily.com.cn]

JINAN - Lyu Zhenbo was once a famous farmer in his village for making the straightest rows, but now he fails to compete with the guiding system equipped on modern agricultural machines.

"I used to farm with cattle," the 57-year-old farmer from a village in East China's Shandong province said. "The days of toiling on the land have gone."

"Handling a combine is just like driving a car," Lyu said. "Farming has become much easier with the help of machines."

For Lyu, farming has become easier and more enjoyable than he ever could have expected since he bought his first walking tractor 40 years ago.

"With a walking tractor, plowing and sowing seemed not so tiring," Lyu said. He is surprised how agricultural machines have changed his life.

The production and living standards of China's farmers have undergone a huge change, especially over the past 40 years.

The hardship of farmers has been largely eased and outdated agricultural tools such as plows and sickles have started to become memories.

In the Agricultural Memory Museum in Caoxian county, more than 100 traditional agricultural tools are exhibited including a wooden plow which dates back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

"It is a typical Chinese agricultural tool, invented in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and used for irrigation," said Pan Lujian, curator of the museum, introducing a water wheel to visitors.

In the 1980s, agricultural mechanization gained its momentum in China and farming came to be more productive than ever with machines that plowed the ground, planted seeds and performed other tasks becoming everyday tools for more and more farmers.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China currently has more than 2,500 agricultural machinery enterprises, and its mechanization rate for crop cultivation and harvesting exceeded 67 percent in 2018. The country's agricultural production is now mainly done by farming machines, replacing the previous manual labor.

An Uber-like mobile APP developed by Lovol Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., a major agricultural machinery enterprise in China, has enabled farmers to use rental machinery.

"It's like hailing a taxi. My son taught me how to use new farming technologies like this," said Lyu whose son used to work in a city but has come back to help his family with farming.

Lyu said an increasing number of young people come back to help their families with knowledge and passion, for the development of agricultural machinery has made farming no longer a toil.

According to Liang Qirong, Party chief of Lovol Heavy Industry, China's agricultural machinery sector is "big but not strong," and moving toward high-quality development to improve competitiveness in the whole industrial cluster.

Agricultural machinery industry is developing fast and exemplifies the development of agriculture, rural areas and the livelihood of farmers in China, according to Zhang Qingjin, director of the Institute of Agricultural Development of Shandong Academy of Social Sciences.

Lyu said farming had become easier as agricultural mechanization rate rose. He hopes his son will take over the farming business and enjoy being a farmer in the future.

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