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From drones to locusts, modern farming transforming China

China Daily | Updated: 2023-06-09 09:27
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A professional operates a drone to spray pesticide on a farmland in Huichang, Jiangxi province. [Photo by Zhu Haipeng/For China Daily]

In the wheat fields of Guwei village in Lujiang county, Anhui province, a fleet of agricultural drones is busy spraying pesticides. What was once a rare sight has now become commonplace in many rural areas across China. Among the farmers to have embraced this technological advancement is 29-year-old Yu Xiaojun, who is also a drone operator.

In April 2016, Yu founded an agricultural machinery services cooperative in partnership with friends to provide services such as plowing, sowing, crop protection and harvesting for large-scale farms. He explained that because large-scale farming needs the support of science and technology, he was motivated to venture into the domain.

The cooperative now has 100 pieces of machinery and equipment and 20 employees. It serves three counties, and many young people approach Yu to learn how to pilot drones.

Tech-savvy farmers are using new ideas and innovative technology to boost agricultural and rural development across China.

At the Mengshi Group's Oriental migratory locust breeding center in Laoling city, Shandong province, swarms of locusts can be seen flying around in hundreds of plastic greenhouses.

In a bid to explore this unconventional source of food, the Mengshi Group, under the leadership of its chairman, Meng Fanjia, is turning locusts into delectable snacks. "From overseas returnee to modern farmer, what changed was not just my occupation and identity but also my ideas," Meng said.

At present, around 500 farmers in Laoling are breeding locusts with support from the Mengshi Group, significantly boosting incomes for some 1,500 households.

Reflecting on her decision to return to her rural hometown in Tai'an city, Shandong province, after graduating from university, Xue Lina confidently asserted that it was a decision she will never regret.

Together with her husband, Xue started a cooperative and set up a 40-hectare demonstration center for the promotion of agricultural techniques. "For me, rural areas are a better place to apply what I know," Xue said.

The cooperative has purchased high-precision planters, drones, corn harvesters and other equipment. It offers a range of services, including plant protection, harvesting and disease and pest control to 2,667 hectares of farmland in the vicinity.

According to Gao Xiangzhao, an expert at the National Agro-tech Extension and Service Center, China's modern farmers are setting a good example.

By offering services, they are not only promoting new types of agriculture and new technology, but are also helping farmers increase production and incomes, Gao said.


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